five fingers by Robin Fulford, directed by Wendy White, with Suzanne Hersh and Mark Cassidy. Presented by Platform 9 at Theatre Passe Muraille Backspace (16 Ryerson). Runs to January 26, Thursday-Saturday 8 pm, matinee Sunday 2:30 pm. $12-$18, Sunday pwyc. 416-504-7529. Rating: N
here's proof that a director andactors can make or break a show.A year and a half ago, Mark Cassidy directed a powerful production of Robin Fulford's Five Fingers at SummerWorks.
This time around, he's onstage instead of behind the scenes. And the play, nearly unrecognizable, is never slapped to life.
It's not necessarily Cassidy's performance as an abusive husband that jars, although he relies too much on an intense, quietly menacing whisper to establish his character.
The problem is director and designer Wendy White's portentous and pretentious production.
Fulford's script feels like the issue-driven, PC theatre of the early 90s. White stages the show as if it's the dramatization of a small suite of poems about abuse, where banal lines about toothpaste get repeated continuously to sound profound.
Symbols like a chalice and -- can it really be? -- a child's apple toy add to the earnestness, which reaches a climax when the abused wife (Suzanne Hersh, Cassidy's wife, but where's the chemistry?) runs around the circular stage.
Lacking genuine characters or authenticating details to communicate the horror of abuse, Five Fingers feels fake and insulting.