There’s nothing random about Allison Price and James Downing’s performances.
PIECES by Sarah Illiatovitch-Goldman (Cue6). At Unit 102 (376 Dufferin). To June 9. $20-$30 ($5 for return visits). See listing. Rating: NNN
This experimental drama about infidelity presents the same collection of scenes in a different, randomly selected order at each performance. It's a risky idea, but Sarah Illiatovitch-Goldman's script is tailored for contingency, so in any sequence the play feels like other intentionally disordered narratives: the titular "pieces" slowly fall into place.
The gloomy story centres around Jim (James Downing), a middle-aged playboy university prof who years earlier had an affair with a student, Jodi (Allison Price). When Jodi unexpectedly turns up, sick and with her young daughter in tow, Jim and his wife, Susan (Rosemary Dunsmore), are faced with difficult truths and decisions.
Pieces succeeds in demonstrating that the intentional ordering of scenes isn't essential for cogent storytelling. Illiatovitch-Goldman's compartmentalized script and the mind's knack for perceiving order in disorder work together to make the random sequence seem coherent.
Less successful are long portions of dialogue that too often stray into boring and unrealistic territory. That said, there are a few well-written and emotionally hard-hitting moments (there was audible sniffling after one heated exchange), but at almost two hours, this experiment would be more effective scaled down.
The cast is solid, with Dunsmore standing out, but sloppy staging by director Jill Harper conceals Jodi and her child during a climactic scene by positioning them behind one of the space's pesky pillars.