NOCTURNE by Adam Rapp, directed by Gord Rand, with Ryan Blakely. Presented by Bent Endeavours at Studio 204 (204 Spadina). Runs to May 22, Thursday-Sunday 8 pm. $10. 416-516-6419. Rating: NN Rating: NN
Adam Rapp's nocturne opens with the bald statement by its solo character: "Fifteen years ago I killed my sister." He then goes on to reconnect the words of the sentence to get a different meaning from them, seemingly to find a new way of looking at the fact.
For the next 90 minutes, the son - now the only child, with parents understandably traumatized by their daughter's death - explores how each family member has reacted over the next decade and a half.
After a chilling incident with his father, the young man goes off to New York and writes a novel about his experiences. Think of the book as a form of therapy that doesn't totally work, at least not until another meeting with his father years later.
Rapp's script is carefully, poetically written, and that's both its strength and its weakness. It feels like every third sentence relies on metaphor or simile to communicate the son's headspace, and some of the writing is striking.
But while it's true that the character often stays in analytical mode to avoid his feelings about his sister's death and its aftermath (he narrates the New York segment in the third person), Rapp conveys less a sense of deadened emotion than of clever verbal patter. The piece has an overwritten quality that compromises its power; the excessive imagery tells us less, not more.
Under Gord Rand 's direction, actor Ryan Blakely boldly confronts the audience, but it's not until the last 20 minutes that any hint of feelings emerges. I don't need them in my face, but I'd like them at least hinted at and rejected or buried.
By the end of the show, the son has some real theatrical three-dimensionality, but for most of it he feels like a literary device.