SERIOUS by Araxi Arslanian, directed by Keira Loughran, with Arslanian, Wes Berger, Kerry Ann Doherty, Adam Joe, Brian Marler and Claire Frances Muir. Presented by Bare-Arse Productions at the Tarragon Extra Space (30 Bridgman). Runs to September 28, Thursday-Saturday 8 pm, matinee Sunday 2:30 pm. $18, Sunday pwyc. 416-531-1827. Rating: NN Rating: NN
Can friends gloss over a tragedy in their midst? In Araxi Arslanian 's Serious , Carla's pals - even her own sister - don't know how to deal with her after a savage event wrenches her from their circle. It's scary but true how frequently discomfort with others is converted to cruelty. The writing often has a theatrical rawness and creates some strong individual confrontations, but overall the play fails to make the emotional impression that Arslanian intends. That's partly because some characters - the poetry-speaking Carla ( Clair Frances Muir ) and the 70s-TV-fixated Derek ( Adam Joe ) - are only sketches. The two-hander scenes work best, the group episodes less so in this production, directed by Keira Loughran .
Wes Berger brings warmth to well-meaning bartender Fred, while Brian Marler 's toxic, misogynistic Amos reveals some caring emotions beneath his cynical, abusive exterior. Arslanian has the brash, mouthy Iz down pat, and it's also a pleasure to see her reveal a vulnerability that she's not had the chance to play onstage before.
Best of all is Kerry Ann Doherty 's Hannah, the sister whose desire to take care of everyone masks an increasingly open anger and insecurity. As Hannah's wrought-up feelings unravel, Doherty's emotional truth consistently anchors the show.