APPLE by Vern Thiessen, directed by Ken Gass (Factory, 125 Bathurst). To November 12. $12-$35.50. 416-504-9971. See Continuing, page 102. Rating: NN Rating: NN
Governor General's award winner Vern Thiessen 's play Apple begins like the Edenic myth, with lovers seeking an erotic thrill and finding shame. But the script in this excessively dramatic production plays out like a soap opera.
When beleaguered anti-hero Andy ( Kevin Hanchard ) seeks refuge from his unsupportive wife on a lakeside park bench, he meets Samantha ( Niki Landau ) and quickly succumbs to her advances.
Bolstered by his sexual reawakening and Samantha's "live-in-the-moment" hippie philosophy, Andy tries to leave his wife, Evelyn ( Sarah Orenstein ).
Then Evelyn is diagnosed with breast cancer, and the couple rediscover their devotion to each other.
Hanchard's rich voice and charisma add intensity to Andy's otherwise forgettable character.
Ironically, he shares more chemistry with Orenstein than with his new lover, which upsets the production's logic.
Orenstein plays the furious Evelyn with a bitchy hardness; think Annette Bening in American Beauty. Her character arc is predictable, but it's difficult to imagine how someone would not be annoyed with characters like Samantha and Andy, who are passive and indecisive.
Scenes with Hanchard and Orenstein fucking and fighting against love and death are emotionally charged, but the play is plagued by Ken Gass 's self-conscious direction and Thiessen's anti-naturalistic script.
Too many extended suffering silences and purple monologues interspersed with melodramatic exchanges make this Apple hard to swallow.