Teresa Przybylski’s imposing image looms over Irene Poole and Richard McMillan in Manon, Sandra And The Virgin Mary.
Michel Tremblay's two-hander doesn't push the envelope as far as other plays staged at Buddies during the Brendan Healy regime. But you can see why it caused a sensation when it first appeared in 1977.
The monologues delivered by repressed Christian Manon (Irene Poole) and hyper-sexual queer Sandra (Richard McMillan) intertwine in ways that eventually bring us to deeper truths about both characters.
It turns out that Manon can get ecstatically orgasmic when it comes to her religious commitment, and Sandra has a profoundly holy side himself.
John Van Burek stages the piece - delivered in one 80-minute act - with minimalist simplicity. It's the right decision; Tremblay's poetic text doesn't need much embellishment.
Teresa Przybylski's set, aided by Itai Erdal's sometimes lurid light design, beautifully brings the characters' connections into focus.
Poole does a good job of showing her bottled-up energy, even if she doesn't quite convey the simmering sexuality the role demands, and McMillan is riveting as Sandra, moving languidly across the stage and drawing us in with his sly smile.
If there's a problem with the piece it is that it's too schematic. In its time, Manon's secrets, Sandra's extensive use of expletives and his plans for how he's going to use his green lipstick may have drawn attention away from the obvious plot devices.
But these days, a few "fucks" can't stop you from seeing how this one's going to end once you're 10 minutes in.