P-DALE EPISODE 3: A SHOT OF LOVE TO THE GUT by Luis Fernandes (376 Dufferin, unit 102). Runs to February 2. $15. 416-532-4422. See listing. Rating: NN
The idea of a multimedia soap based on the colourful goings-on in Parkdale - and performed at a theatre in the neighbourhood - is certainly intriguing. But Luis Fernandes's P-Dale, now in its third episode, never finds the right tone for what it wants to say.
A Shot Of Love To The Gut continues the story of four robbers whose botched convenience store holdup has left one of them without a hand (ending his job as a porn fluffer), one of them doing community service in a soup kitchen and all of them at the mercy of a roving, slightly unstable vigilante.
Its loose scenes make P-Dale feel improvised at times, a sense reinforced by the presence of familiar improv artists like Sean Tabares (as a bartender), Carmine Lucarelli (in a terrific turn as a flaming porn director) and Gene Abella (as the store owner).
But the piece is billed as theatre, so writer Fernandes (who, incidentally, is electric as a restless drug dealer who just wants to cut a rap record) is guilty of writing clichés like "Time is of the essence" and "Walk with a spring in your step."
Furthermore, it's disorienting to have Tabares's seen-it-all bartender begin and end the show like a character in a noir movie, Round Midnight playing in the background. And while video (by Conall Pendergast) is generally effective, particularly in a sequence involving the backstory of a luckless street person named Walker (Mike Tanchuk), it could be better used to help establish the various settings.
There's potential in some storylines, particularly the one about a sinister condo developer named Brad Wool (not Lamb, get it?), and Fernandes's critique of middle-class hypocrisy has some bite.
But he and director Brandon Thomas need to sharpen the material to make P-Dale worthy of repeat visits.