Habitat by Judith Thompson, directed by Katherine Kaszas, with Stephen Ouimette, Kristina Nicoll, Luke Kirby, Holly Lewis and Corinne Conley. Presented by Canadian Stage at the Bluma Appel (27 Front East). Runs to October 13, Monday-Saturday 8 pm, matinees Wednesday 1:30 pm and Saturday 2 pm. $20-$69, limited Monday pwyc and same-day half-price rush. 416-368-3110. Rating: NN
judith thompson wants her new play, Habitat, to make us angry. It does, but not for the obvious reasons.A not-in-my-backyard story about a group home in a posh neighbourhood, the play kicks up lots of issues, including aimless teens, flawed social workers and hypocritical liberalism.
What infuriates us aren't these themes, but the sloppy way they and the characters and plot are developed.
Habitat feels like a series of extended audition monologues, fine for a few minutes -- poetic, profound -- but confusing when strung together.
A troubled teen who is nihilistic in the brutally powerful first scene is strangely compassionate in another; a WASP matron who takes to the teen (and what is the basis of their friendship?) betrays her later, then changes her mind; other characters blurt out bits of their histories.
All lazy, all superficial, all hard to play, though Stephen Ouimette and Luke Kirby emerge nearly unscathed.
Once the chronicler of urban youth, Thompson -- and director Katherine Kaszas, whose work here is melodramatic and antiseptic -- seems so insulated in her safe middle-class world that Habitat is devoid of authenticity.