LULLABY by Thelon Oeming, directed by Jennifer H. Capraru (Dark Horse). At Simone Interiors (1690 Queen West). To November 18. Pwyc-$15. 416-460-9306. Rating: NNN
Not all reno hell is architectural - it can be personal. Thelon Oeming's Lullaby shows how when he opens up the darkness inside three people who live in a Parkdale house facing gentrification.
Partners Leandra (Amy Rutherford) and Looch (Dusan Dukic) have just moved in together and meet Kenny (David Ferry), a guy with a wad of cash who charms Looch and rents their basement. A street-savvy, quietly magnetic guy, he insinuates himself into their lives and offers tantalizing bits about his past - some likely improvised - in the neighbourhood and beyond.
Set in the back of a Parkdale store, the Dark Horse Theatre production , directed by Jennifer H. Capraru, has several strengths, not the least of which is Oeming's fine ear for dialogue. The speeches have a realistic quality but also vibrate with slightly heightened rhythms.
His characters, all with an emotional emptiness, look for someone to fill the hole inside them, but they're not all convincingly created.
Dukic's naive, father-dependent Looch needs more fullness and changes little during the show; the script doesn't give him much to build on. Rutherford's Leandra is a richer figure, a woman who grows as a person, moving from fear and insecurity to compassion.
Best of all is Ferry, who understands both the comedy and the rage in the impulsive Kenny. Importantly, he doesn't patronize the character. Ferry never makes him a conniving manipulator, but rather gives him a sweet sense of innocence that makes the shy relationship between Kenny and Leandra believable, even though the play also has moments of unnecessary melodrama.