IN ON IT written and directed by Daniel MacIvor, with MacIvor and Darren O'Donnell. Presented by da da kamera and Buddies in Bad Times at Buddies (12 Alexander). Runs to April 7, Thursday-Saturday 8 pm, matinee Sunday 2:30 pm. $18-$25, Sunday pwyc. 416-975-8555. Rating: NNNNN Rating: NNNNN
so there're these two guys, this One (Daniel MacIvor) and That One (Darren O'Donnell). They're fighting about their relationship, they're writing a script and playing its various parts, all the time criticizing the play and its characters. It might sound confusing, but over the course of one magical evening, In On It brings all the threads together.
MacIvor the writer creates and almost immediately analyzes the several elements of the piece. He blends a Maria Callas aria with a boppy Lesley Gore tune, a whole set of characters for the play-within-the-play and the two opposites who present it, the upbeat, political and emotional That One and the neutral, low-key, contained This One. As ideas and lines snake through the different scenes of the play -- This One refuses to call it a show -- and inner and outer time smudge indecipherably, MacIvor and O'Donnell perform so expertly you'd swear they're improvisers with absolute trust in each other.
Every once in a while, though, you admire the cleverness of the writing and performing, the minute shifts of tone that suggest feeling rather than state it, and you want the actual feeling rather than a hint of it. And then MacIvor pulls the emotional rug out from under you, and the piece -- beautifully engineered -- resonates in a profound and upsetting way.
There are no missteps in any aspect of the production, including Richard Feren's everyday yet eerie soundscape and Kimberly Purtell's lighting, a combination of keenly etched playing areas and the occasional wash of illumination in the bare Buddies performing space. A razor-blade-sharp production.