THE secret life of haddon mackenzie written and directed by Sky Gilbert, with Jefferson Guzman, Veronika Hurnik, Julian Doucet, Erika Hennebury and Avi Phillips. Presented by the Cabaret Company at the Theatre Centre (1087 Queen West). Runs to May 2, Thursday-Saturday 8 pm, matinee Sunday 2:30 pm. $15, Sunday pwyc. 416-538-0988. Rating: NN Rating: NN
Inspired by Sky Gilbert's own experiences as a preteen figure skater, The Secret Life Of Haddon Mackenzie sets out to blow the whistle on figure skating, homosexuality and hypocrisy in Toronto in the supposedly swinging 1960s. Big surprise.
It's hard to care about the secret life of some closeted man when we know so little about him in the first place.
The buttoned-down Mackenzie ( Jefferson Guzman ) is a skating pro who teaches Ivor ( Avi Phillips ), the awkward, poetry-reading son of one of his closest friends, divorcée Bev ( Veronika Hurnik ).
Rather than explore the internalized homophobia of two gay males of different generations, a fascinating premise, Gilbert relies on melodrama plot and focuses insanely on period details.
Are we supposed to care about a character just because his hair's coiffed in a pleasingly retro way and he's eating at Julie's, apparently a T.O. hot spot of the era?
Gilbert gives his best lines to Bev, another of the writer's outrageous, campy female characters who's essentially a drag queen - a gay man's idea of a woman. Hurnik has fun biting into Bev's juicy lines about her sex life. She should. At least she has something to do, unlike the others, who are wasted as Gilbert blithely skates over his script's rich potential.