THE INNOCENT EYE TEST by Michael Healey, directed by Christopher Newton (Mirvish). At the Royal Alex (260 King West). Runs to April 23. $30-$75. See Continuing, page 87. 416-872-1212. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
You won't need a new pair of glasses to see the fun in The Innocent Eye Test .
Set in an upscale Tuscan villa, Michael Healey 's farce is filled with mistaken identities, hidden agendas, false accents and the wrong people always finding themselves in the same room. Or maybe the same pool, since David Boechler 's first-act set includes the shallow end of what looks like an enormous swimming pool.
It's not easy to write the intricate mechanisms of a farce, but Healey's come up with a puff-pastry plot, linking the sale of a painting and the sale of Chernobyl plutonium, that manages to be intentionally ridiculous one moment and thoughtful the next.
As the play's naive central figure, an apologetic Canadian art dealer, Kevin Bundy 's adept at physical comedy, while Gord Rand as a Ukrainian have-not with his first taste of Western luxury brings a gargantuan zest for life to the part. As a bickering Irish couple, C. David Johnson and Tanja Jacobs begin as minor versions of Albee's George and Martha but later reveal a whole overnight bag of hidden agendas.
Lisa Norton plays Bundy's romantic interest, a woman with a surprising skill, while Tom McCamus , sporting the play's loudest shirts, makes a meal of a Las Vegas wheeler-dealer whose focus is on the deal, not the object for sale.
A fine comedy writer, Healey fills the quick-turning plot with sharp dialogue and occasional digs at cultural stereotypes, among them the Canadian inferiority complex and the American reliance on weapons diplomacy. He also offers some telling comments on art, love and corruption.
Though the first act's pacing could be brisker under Christopher Newton 's direction, the second act offers an entertaining payoff, with characters popping in and out of the doors that are requisite for any self-respecting farce.