*WHITE MICE, written and directed by Darren O'Donnell, with Bruce Hunter and O'Donnell. Presented by Mammalian Diving Reflex and Theatre Passe Muraille in the Theatre Passe Muraille Mainspace (16 Ryerson). Runs to October 15, Thursday- Saturday at 8 pm, Sunday matinee 2:30 pm. 504-7529. Rating: NNNN
No one can wring involving theatre from political and moral observations as acidly and entertainingly as writer/director Darren O'Donnell. In White Mice, a pale pair of red-lipped, -eared and -toenailed rodents discuss the links between capitalism and racism, drawing audiences into a scary, ever-tightening argument.
Played out in a cartoony, vaudeville-style performance under lighting by R.S. Armstrong that's as razor-sharp as the dialogue, the piece sets the easygoing liberal Douglas (Bruce Hunter) against his argumentative, troubled brother Robert (O'Donnell), who convinces his cappuccino-scarfing sibling that whiteness, artificially constructed by those in power, equals privilege.
Hunter is the perfect stooge here, combining his comedy background with a acute emotional sensitivity to Douglas's changing perceptions. And while O'Donnell controls the argument as performer, he doesn't always keep the rhythms of the piece running smoothly.
Still, White Mice - even on second viewing - is a keenly rational and finely framed piece of theatre, one that engages the mind and the funny bone. JK