REVOLUTIONS IN THERAPY by Nadia Ross and Jacob Wren, with Tracy Wright, Ross and Wren. Presented by STO Union at Artword Theatre (75 Portland). Runs to June 18, Tuesday-Saturday 8 pm, matinee Sunday 3 pm. $15-$22, Sunday pwyc. 416-366-7723 ext 290, www.artword.net. Rating: NNN
Bench your inner skeptic before you pick your tickets up for Revolutions In Therapy .
The show bills itself as an exploration of how religion, politics and capitalism fail to provide society with a sense of completeness.
That premise - as pretentious as an undergraduate paper for Psych 101 - misrepresents what Nadia Ross , Jacob Wren and Tracy Wright accomplish through the simplest actions and stories.
Revolutions In Therapy plays as a metatheatrical jam session fuelled by psychoanalysis and cultural commentary.
Wright's persona claims to have experienced a semi-spiritual conversion that's given her a profound sense of peace. Ross, like most of us, struggles with anxiety and sadness as she searches for contentment.
Their discussion moves back and forth both visually and through the text, which is delivered in what director Wren in the program's bio notes calls a "casual style" of performance. Essentially it's an improvisation-based delivery using relaxed, natural intonation and tone.
Ross's tired eyes and sloping shoulders are as affecting as her tone of voice and presence opposite Wright's calm, Earth Motherish persona. Their physicality mesmerizes.
Wright and Ross are stronger than Wren, who assumes Ross's role halfway through as her dark, negative, contemptuous self. Where the women are self-assured and articulate, Wren's clumsiness compromises the intimacy the women worked to create with the audience.
Considering Wren's directorial credo - that theatre should make the audience uncomfortable - perhaps his carelessness is conscious. But no one wants to watch an actor slip and fall, which is what we feel during Wren's assault on the playing space.
And there's the challenge of a piece like this: how far can you go before you just piss the audience off? Revolutions In Therapy comes dangerously close.