Piper down the piper by Colleen Murphy, with music by Don Horsburgh, directed by Richard Rose, with Victor Ertmanis, Randi Helmers, Maggie Huculak, Melody Johnson, Adam Kelly, Ross Manson, Richard McMillan, Julian Richings, Rick Roberts and Maria Vacratsis. Presented by Necessary Angel in association with Factory Theatre (125 Bathurst). Runs to March 3, Tuesday-Saturday 8:30 pm, matinees Saturday-Sunday 2:30 pm. $20-$28, Sunday pwyc-$20. 416-504-9971. Rating: NN
colleen murphy's new play, thePiper, inspired by the Pied Piper legend, evokes a single word: rats.Not literal rats, although vermin, as expected, figure prominently in this Necessary Angel disappointment directed by Richard Rose. We're talking rats as in too bad.
Too bad this expensive experiment by the talented Rose (Inexpressible Island, Seven Lears) and Murphy (Beating Heart Cadaver) never finds its focus. Too bad the large, talented cast is mostly wasted. Too bad the show isn't shorter.
Murphy, Rose and composer Don Horsburgh have created a stylized, clown-inspired world full of hypocrisy and corruption, where New Yawk-accented vermin emerge from manholes, hump anything in sight and take pornographic Polaroids of the town's children for the titillation of the adults.
The most powerful parts of the play -- broken contracts, the loss of children -- come from the original legend and are messily intertwined here with grotesque parodies of municipal politicians and capitalists.
In setting up her obviously Brechtian world, Murphy fails to explain the rats' origin -- are they street kids? homeless? I'm also not sure the 20-person cast is needed. Julian Richings, Maggie Huculak and Randi Helmers discover some soul -- or at least motivation -- in their cardboard cutout characters, but Richard McMillan is wasted as a town council member, as is Maria Vacratsis, seemingly reprising her role from the Tarragon's Slavs.
As for the music, it's neither Weill nor vile. Just unremarkable.