Bahia Watson and Tom Rooney are a tad... clinical.
SOMEONE ELSE by Kristen Thomson (Crow’s Theatre/Canadian Stage). At the Berkeley Street Theatre (26 Berkeley). To February 2. $22-$49. 416-368-3110. See listings. Rating: NN
One of the central characters in Kristen Thomson's new play, Someone Else, is a stand-up comic. And the stripped-down set for this Crow's Theatre/Canadian Stage production features four doors. So: door-slamming, mistaken-identity farce?
Not quite. Doors are occasionally slammed, but in anger, and the play deals with mistaken identity of another sort. Cathy (Thomson), the stand-up, and Peter (Tom Rooney), a doctor at a community clinic, have been married for 18 years, but neither knows who the other is any more.
The creatively blocked Cathy believes Peter's seeing someone else, and, in a way, her instincts are right. Peter, haunted by something in his past, is about to cross the boundary of acceptable doctor-patient behaviour with April (Bahia Watson), a vulnerable young woman who cuts herself and may be suicidal.
Thomson's script feels like an early draft. Some scenes are like sketches, and the couple's tween daughter, Vanessa (Nina Taylor), is used so little, she's essentially a prop.
Not that there isn't potential here. The couple's scenes suggest years of gnarled disagreements. And Cathy's caustic stand-up routines hint at bitter truths about aging.
But the material feels fragmented, never coming together, and director Chris Abraham does it no favours. Kimberly Purtell's lighting design seems arbitrary, while Julie Fox's bleak set is meant to suggest some existential waiting room of the soul but merely looks unfinished.
One energetic sequence takes advantage of the multiple doors, but the dramatic payoff here and elsewhere never arrives.
Watson has a couple of fresh line readings, and Thomson and Rooney are fine. What the script needs, though, is more about the couple's relationship. Instead of probing the subtle and painful depths of middle-age insecurities and doubts, it gives us a deus ex machina that feels like a cop-out.