INVISIBLE ATOM By Anthony Black, directed by Ann-Marie Kerr (Necessary Angel/2b theatre). At Theatre Passe Muraille Backspace (16 Ryerson). To March 30. Pwyc-$20. 416-504-7529. Rating: NNNN
Like everyone these days, Atom, the title character in Anthony Black’s remarkable solo play, is worried about the war and the looming economic crisis. But he’s also got personal reasons to be concerned. As an investment banker, he’s trying to reconcile his own recent wealth with ethical investing principles. Oh, and he’s just survived a mysterious bomb attack.
Black’s script, like his lead character, circles in on itself in a highly charged way. Atom, who was orphaned and raised in a foster home, is a new father. The suggestion that he might have a heart problem leads him to seek out his birth parents, which sets in motion the play’s remarkable series of revelations and one of the most white-knuckle climaxes on a stage this season.
Not that there’s anything overdone about this production, a reworking of the SummerWorks 2006 hit. Black, who plays Atom and a half-dozen other characters, has constructed a tight, powerful script full of humour, heartbreak and smarts. Look at how he makes Atom find politics and social commentary in a description of a high-end sofa.
Director Ann-Marie Kerr uses black curtains to make the normally intimate stage of the Passe Muraille Backspace even tinier.
Thanks to designers Leigh Ann Vardy (lighting) and Christian Barry (sound), Kerr can pinpoint scenes and characters with such clarity that two fingers can believably stand in for a desperate man pacing the top of a building.Black, who exudes the nervous energy of a taller, younger Woody Allen, occasionally trips up on his way through the fascinating maze of a script, but he always lands on his feet. His tragicomic journey through the minefield of global economics will keep paying dividends long after you’ve left the theatre.