ROUGH HOUSE By Andy Massingham, directed by Brian Quirt (Nightswimming/Lorraine Kimsa Theatre for Young People). 165 Front East. To April 20. $15-$20. 416-862-2222. See listings. Rating: NNNN
It’s not by chance that Andy Massingham shares his curtain call for Rough House with a light bulb, a dish and a chair.
The show may feature only one performer, but his interaction with the three objects makes for an hour of clever physical comedy that works as well for young people as for grown-ups.
At times his allies, more often his adversaries, the chair, dish and light bulb bound out of reach or remain resolutely stuck to the floor as Massingham goes through a series of short, imaginative routines, many of them related to sports. He boxes with the bulb, for instance, turns the dish into all the accoutrements of a baseball game and eventually falls asleep on it, using the chair as his blanket.
Lighthearted and entertaining under Brian Quirt’s direction, the wordless show also features Michelle Ramsay and Rebecca Picherack’s lighting, which creates other characters using shadow images.
One of the production’s magical aspects is the way a shadow object can have as much “reality” as a solid object, and even turn into another antagonist. Watch how Massingham manipulates a shadow bowl so it rests comfortably on a shadow chair, or how an image of his head appears in a box of light at the level of his knees.
Inspired by the work of silent film comedians, Massingham’s fantasy sketches are based on everyday activities. He doesn’t always win his battles with obstacles in this make-believe world, but his nimble, graceful moves make Rough House a smooth show.