THE GOOD LIFE written and directed by Daniel Brooks, with Luke Kirby, Bob Martin, Waneta Storms, Tamsin Kelsey, Guillermo Verdecchia and Tracy Wright. Tarragon Theatre (30 Bridgman). Runs to April 7, Tuesday-Saturday 8 pm, matinees Saturday and Sunday 2:30 pm. $24-$30, Sunday pwyc-$15. 416-531-1827. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
the good life is very good in-deed. Daniel Brooks's play looks at modern relationships -- with a generous dollop of arguments from Plato's The Symposium thrown in -- to discover whether, as one character puts it, love is the question or the answer.Contrasting a contented couple, Gena (Tamsin Kelsey) and Dan (Guillermo Verdecchia), with their ever-bickering counterparts Mary (Tracy Wright) and Chris (Bob Martin), Brooks picks at the nature of the relationship glue. Add some tempting partners for extra-marital dabbling -- Eve (Waneta Storms) and Gord (Luke Kirby) -- and the stakes are raised.
Sophisticated, witty and ever-probing, the playwright never allows us to settle on firm ground. We have to keep up with the lively dialogue and arguments here, whether it's Chris's classical references, Gena's bewilderment when she steps into emotional free fall or Dan's smug, self-referential interview style.
Brooks often breaks with theatrical convention to give the script a charge, especially in monologues that are part philosophy, part stand-up routine.
As director, he gets fine performances from most of the cast, notably Verdecchia's chameleon-like Dan, Kelsey's complex Gena and Wright's cyanide-laced Mary. Andrea Lundy's lighting is as dramatic and nuanced as any of the characters.
Intellectually and emotionally compelling, The Good Life offers no resolutions to questions about sexual and emotional partnering. It simply lays out the quandaries in finely crafted dramatic form.