THE CRIMSON VEIL, written and composed by Allen Cole, book by Cole and Glen Cairns, with additional lyrics by James Fagan Tait, directed by Leah Cherniak, with Paul Braunstein, Kevin Dennis, Naomi Emmerson, Kelly McIntosh, Julain Molnar and Michael McManus. Presented by Factory Theatre in association with Divining Rod Productions at the Factory (125 Bathurst). Runs to July 9, Tuesday-Saturday at 8 pm, matinee Sunday 2 pm. $19-$27, Sunday pwyc. 504-9971. Rating: NNN
Veil too constricting
At two and a half melodyless, repetitive hours, Allen Cole and Glen Cairns's The Crimson Veil feels like a designer straitjacket. Nice looking, but a tad constricting.
Set in an enchanted Italian forest, this musical fairy tale for adults tells what happens when a young clarinet-playing mortal named Bruno (Kevin Dennis) meets and falls in love with a fairy princess (Naomi Emmerson). Not only are their respective single parents unhappy (Michael McManus and the always thrilling Julain Molnar), but a pair of incestuous evil faeries (Kelly McIntosh and Paul Braunstein) are on their tails as well.
Call it A Midsummer Night's Magic Flute, with music and lyrics by Weill and Brecht.
Derivative? Of course. I have no problem with that. Everything's derivative. Shallow characters? Yes. This is a fairy tale, not Hamlet.
What's disappointing is how clumsily composer/writer Cole and co-writer Cairns have put together the book. Motivation in fairy tales is all-important. Villains want things, heroes stand for something and we all expect good to triumph over evil.
In The Crimson Veil it's never clear who wants what or why, which makes the show confusing and puts our sympathies on hold.
Add to this the complete lack of memorable tunes and you've got a show wandering the forest looking for something to sing about and someone to hear it.
Bright patches? Steve Ross's lighting, with its continually changing solid colour scheme, evokes a fantasy world, while Teresa Przybylski's sets and costumes bring imaginative life to serpents, faeries and oracular clocks.
Molnar's fairy is given an off-the-page complexity thanks to her empathy and full-throated mezzo, while McIntosh and Braunstein make up for the lack of plot by joking around like Angelina Jolie and bro at the Oscars.