WILL HE -- NILL HE by Michael Rawley, directed by Geoffrey Whynot, with Norma Dell'Agnese, Mark Harapiak, Wendy Krekeler and Patric Masurkevitch. Presented by Shaking Ground at the Tarragon Extra Space (30 Bridgman). Runs to May 19, Tuesday-Saturday 8 pm, matinee Sunday 2 pm. $20-$25 (May 16 benefit for Kidney Foundation $50, 416-968-1551), Sunday pwyc. 416-531-1827. Rating: NN Rating: NNNNN
will he -- nill he is michael rawley's most ambitious play to date, both in terms of size and in what it attempts to deal with. But the script is still in need of some rewrites before it reveals its divine essence. There's already some divinity onstage in the person of Boss (Wendy Krekeler), the supreme deity (there's no gender in heaven, despite Boss's female appearance), who quotes The Wizard Of Oz and would rather watch TV and take baths than mind creation.
When things in a falling-apart heaven and a crowded hell reach a physical and metaphysical impasse, Lucifer -- here known as Lucy (Norma Dell'-Agnese) -- travels with the Archangel Michael (Mark Harapiak) and Boss down to earth to confront Mannie (Patric Masurkevitch), who plans to commit suicide by jumping from the CN Tower.
Rawley knows how to write clever lines, but he gives them too much play for the first 20 minutes of the show before getting down to serious business -- an examination of faith, religion and accountability in a world filled with inexplicable horrors. The second act, on the other hand, gets too caught up in arguments, as the characters chase round and round seeking the explanation of evil in the universe.
There are some good performances and laughs under Geoffrey Whynot's direction. Finding nuggets to mine, Krekeler does nice work as a clueless schlump of a deity, wearing a duster and fluffy pink slippers, and there are flashes of wit in Harapiak's turn as a managerial flunky for the big heavenly corporation and Dell'Agnese's party-loving lawyer, though she doesn't seem to know her lines yet. As Rawley's written him, Mannie is more mouthpiece than character, which hampers our interest in the issues he raises.