THE DEVIL YOU DON'T KNOW by Joel Hynes and Sherry White, directed by Heather Braaten (Redwatch). At Theatre Passe Muraille Backspace (16 Ryerson). To October 8. $10 - $20. 416-504-7529. See Continuing, page 86. Rating: NNN Rating: NNNNN
It's easy to create your own de mons to make life hell. Just ask Keith and Natasha, the not-always-loving couple in The Devil You Don't Know.
They're obsessed with each other, but there's still a lot of grit in their relationship. Like many couples, neither is solely responsible or blameless for their problems.
Natasha leaves their small-town Newfoundland home for Toronto, comes back, then goes off again, this time to Halifax to become an actor. Keith takes up with another woman, wishes he were with Natasha, follows her to Halifax.
Director Heather Braaten captures the energy in this relationship, the sense of guilt and need that both partners feel but neither is good at sharing. She moves the action along smoothly, though much of the dialogue is really a parallel series of monologues.
What Braaten can't do is make Keith an engaging character. It's not actor Jonathan Pinksen's fault; he has the necessary charm, but there's a quality in Keith that doesn't allow viewers to get fully involved with him. Pinksen's most successful in a flashback scene that shows how the two got together and in the couple's final fight and ambiguous reconciliation.
There's no such problem with Natasha, who can be both naive and wise, and Renée Hackett gives her a full range of emotional colours. Hackett makes Natasha sympathetic even in her most unstable and volatile moments.
Composer David Picco's live music, sung with a slightly gravelly but seductive voice, contributes nicely to the Down East feel of the piece and helps tie scenes together, while Laird Macdonald 's fine set morphs magically back and forth from rocky landscape to mundane beds and bus seats.