CANADA STEEL By J. Karol Korczynski, directed by Graham Cozzubbo (Canada House Artistic Co-op). At Tarragon Extra Space (30 Bridgman). To Feb 17. Pwyc-$25. 416-531-1827. Rating: NN
Ever notice the industry-induced haze that hangs over Hamilton Harbour? Well, this same condition pervades Canada Steel, J. Karol Korczynski’s long-winded new play about a laid-off Hamilton factory worker and his family.
This second instalment of Korczynski’s sociopolitical Canada House trilogy opens with unionized steelworker Gus (a twitchy Daniel Kash) on sick leave due to mental illness. The plant closes down while he’s off, and Gus finds himself unemployed, destitute and distraught. When the union cancels his health benefits and withholds his pension, Gus snaps.
The play introduces many implausible subplots having to do with politics, sex, sports and art to explore the evils of industry and union bureaucracy.
Among them, the Leafs make the Stanley Cup playoffs, Gus’s wife, Rose (Alison Woolridge), finds a Pablo Serrano canvas and sells it to sleazy union official Les (Brian Marler), and Gus cultivates a telephone relationship with Bhopal (Pragna Desai), a poorly treated customer service phone rep based in Mumbai. Desai’s storyline and performance provide the show’s few dramatic highlights.
Many of these characters go on about using “synergy” to solve problems. However, there’s little evidence of that synergy in the play’s production values. Director Graham Cozzubbo’s staging looks cramped when more than two characters are onstage, and Brent Krysa’s cumbersome scenery leads to clunky set changes.With the trilogy’s final play yet to come, now might be the time to file a grievance.