Orchidelirium by Dave Carley, directed by Sue Miner, with Tanja Jacobs, Anne Page, Patrick Galligan and Joel Hechter. Presented by Pea Green Theatre and Theatre Voce at Factory Studio (125 Bathurst). Runs to March 9, Tuesday-Saturday 8 pm, matinee Sunday 2:30 pm. $19-$25, Sunday pwyc. 416-504-9971. Rating: NN
Something about Orchids mustencourage experimentation.It happened to Spike Jonze and Charlie Kaufman in their oh-so-clever film Adaptation. And it's happened less successfully to local playwright Dave Carley.
Set simultaneously in two time periods and four settings, Carley shows us a quartet of characters all obsessed to varying degrees with the mysterious blooms.
He tries to splice together themes as diverse as pharmaceutical companies, academia, the plight of the single Victorian woman and religion, but there's not enough focus.
Even as a study of obsession, the work comes up short, for we never get to the emotional reasons for the characters' compulsions.
Much of the play consists of people talking to each other -- either reading out letters (a device that soon resembles an MSN chat more than anything epistolary) or by cellphone. We're meant to feel some psychic connection between two eras, but it feels fake -- The Hours with flowers.
Director Sue Miner does her best with little 10-second scenettes and characters bounding up and down stairs. She cultivates a fine comic performance by Tanja Jacobs as a slightly mad professor. (Jacobs, I think, could sell any line.) But Miner can't cut through the script's many weeds.