Buncha' Young Artists Festival presented by Theatre Direct Canada at Theatre Passe Muraille Backspace (16 Ryerson). Runs in rep to March 23. $12-$20., 416-504-7529.
roundabout by Sean Reycraft, directed by Michael Waller, with Jacob Barker, Marjorie Chan, Michelle Polak and Daniel Stemer. Rating: NNN
being a teen is difficult under normal circumstances. But in Roundabout, Sean Reycraft raises the emotional stakes even further with themes of death, guilt and jealousy.Not only is Molly (Michelle Polak) still haunted by her brother Simon's (Daniel Stemer) death by drowning, but she's snowed in at school, Breakfast Club-style, with her ex-boyfriend Gordie (Jacob Barker) and his annoying new girlfriend, Kristie (Marjorie Chan).
The power struggles are handled nicely, and director Michael Waller adds tension with repeating visual motifs like having the dead Simon depart, ghostlike, up the theatre's staircase.
But the bunker metaphor feels forced, and for all the initial tough-talkin' overlapping of lines, there are lots of holes.
Thankfully, the actors make things watchable, especially Chan as a high-strung figure skater and Polak, whose rage counts down like a time bomb, unpredictable and frightening.