KATE AND SAM ARE NOT BREAKING UP by Joel Kim Booster (cue6 Productions). At Fraser Studio (76 Stafford). Runs to June 21. $20-$40. Cue6.ca. See listing. Rating: NNNN
As topical as this morning's trending Buzzfeed article, Joel Kim Booster's darkly funny Kate And Sam Are Not Breaking Up takes the teen fantasy movie phenom and our obsession with celebrity to their natural conclusions.
Kate (Karen Knox) and Sam (AJ Vaage) are stratospherically famous because of a Twilight-like series they both star in called Ghost Forest. Once a couple, they've broken up. But if superfans Bill (Tim Walker), a geeky loser, and control-freak high schooler Becky (Rebecca Liddiard) have their way, the two will soon get back together.
The less revealed about the plot the better. Even the opening sequence, which arrives after we've heard a terrifically vapid and accurate TV entertainment show parody, contains surprises. Booster's satiric targets are dead on, from the banalities that stars spout in interviews to the painfully earnest exercises used in psychotherapy.
He also cleverly integrates a couple of scenes from the fictional Ghost Forest movies into the play, which Kate and Sam act out. These sequences, evocatively lit by Simon Rossiter, are sharply directed by Jill Harper, who's got a solid hold on the play's rhythms, although I'm not sure the thing warrants an intermission. Christine Groom's set looks believably like it could be inhabited by a sci-fi geek.
The performances are uneven. You could argue that Knox and Liddiard's shoutiness is part of their characters' heightened states, but some shading might help. Knox and Vaage make their faux movie dialogue funny without going over the top. And Walker infuses his lonely, alienated shlub with fear, empathy and sensitivity, even when he's not part of the action.