TRICK OR TREAT by Jean Marc Dalpé, directed by Ken Gass, with Ari Cohen, Kyle Horton, Matthew MacFadzean, Earl Pastko and Robert Persichini. Factory Theatre (125 Bathurst). Runs to November 4, Tuesday-Saturday 8 pm, matinees Saturday 4 pm and Sunday 2 pm. $20-$28, Sunday pwyc-$20. 416-504-9971. Rating: NNN
there's a neat set of tricks -- andalso a few treats -- in the centre of Jean Marc Dalp's Montreal gangster thriller Trick Or Treat, but you have to wade through a few wan episodes to get there.It's not surprising that Dalpé's focus is the play's extended centre, the narrative he wrote first. Fifteen-year-old Mike (Kyle Horton), robbed of his new Nikes, wants to buy a gun on Halloween night from TV repairman Ben (Earl Pastko) and runs into both help and hindrance from Ben's sometime assistant, Cracked (Matthew MacFadzean).
This cat-and-mouse episode pulsates with tension, and the three actors tease us with the characters' shifting power relations. The following scene's dark comedy also makes an impact, but earlier episodes exploring each character's history fail to take shape, except for MacFadzean's speech to his wheelchair-bound mother.
There's also power and acuity in Robert Persichini's work as a bumbling mob errand-runner in an encounter with Pastko, but Pastko is tentative and unfocused here, unlike later in the play.
Dalpé also falters with poetic, Bible-inspired scenes interspersed with the Montreal stories. Maybe he wants to offer respite from the pressure, but these live and recorded speeches seem to come from a different play.
It's the repair-shop scene that's the most explosive part of the show, with MacFadzean's wiry, seductive, dangerous Cracked as its short fuse. If he should offer you an apple on Halloween, don't take it -- or at least, before you bite, check for razor blades.