ST. CHRISTOPHER by A. Shay Hahn, directed by Vikki Anderson, with Lisa Norton, Gray Powell, Philip Riccio and Ashley Wright. Presented by DVxT in association with Theatre Passe Muraille at Passe Muraille Mainspace (16 Ryerson). Runs to April 17, Tuesday-Saturday 8 pm, matinee Sunday 2:30 pm. $24-$34, Sunday pwyc-$16. 416-504-7529. Rating: NN Rating: NN
If I'd lived in the 40s, I'd have been a fast-talking dame with ice-blond hair and a smart little hat. Style, baby, all style - with only a whisper of substance.
That sums up the latest offering at Theatre Passe Muraille by DVxT . St. Christopher has plenty of sass and style. Unfortunately, playwright A. Shay Hahn 's promising theme - the progress of hope after great tragedy - is only partially explored. The actors share some nice moments together onstage, but it's just nice, and they're just moments.
In postwar 1949 Toronto on the night the S.S. Noronic burns in the harbour, plucky Miriam Warren ( Lisa Norton ) escapes from the ship in search of adventure and freedom.
Miriam crosses paths with Tom (the nattily dressed and engaging Gray Powell ), a soft-spoken vet who's haunted by the war yet hopeful for the future. They meet up with Markagh ( Philip Riccio ), Tom's maniacal war buddy and partner in petty crime. Her youth clashes with their experience, and it all goes to hell from there.
Director Vikki Anderson 's generous six-week rehearsal period allowed the company to get comfy in the world of the play - so comfy that they've lost any sense of urgency, resulting an unbalanced night of great acting without great drama.
Miriam's scene with slimeball Paul Ware ( Ashley Wright ) in a cabin on the Noronic has a particularly weird vibe. They fight against cramped staging atop a small elevated platform in the top corner of the set. Norton's scenes with Powell play more smoothly, but the action still has a pronounced limp.
St. Christopher sounds good (thanks to vocal coach Jane Gooderham ) and looks good (thanks to costume designer Shawn Kerwin and lighting designer Michael Kruse ). But despite the efforts of cast and crew, the show bobs only briefly before sinking.