POOCHWATER by Mike McPhaden, directed by Patrick Conner, with McPhaden and Brendan Wall. Presented by Poochwater Co-op at the Passe Muraille Backspace (16 Ryerson). To November 24, Tuesday-Saturday 8 pm, matinee Sunday 2:30 pm. $15-$18, Sunday pwyc, stu/srs discount. 416-504-7529. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
if you return a lost wallet, you usually get a reward. Or at least a sincere thank you. Not so in Poochwater, Mike McPhaden's quirky, ultimately moving comedy, expanded since its SummerWorks production.McPhaden plays Man One, a guy who finds a wallet, slips into its owner's rented room and discovers -- when he tries to leave a note -- that he doesn't know who he is. Considerate, myopic and confident that the scientific method will help him learn his identity, Man One is scarily intellectual and particular in his choice of vocabulary. No wonder he considers himself a genius.
With the entry of Man Two (Brendan Wall), his cane raised against this intruder, the pressure in the room rises. What follows is a wonderful pair of character studies highlighted by McPhaden's fresh, charming and very funny performance. Wall offers a range of comic insecurities until a chance falling into a second language -- a bizarre but lovely point of connection -- establishes a link between them.
Director Patrick Conner skilfully guides the show's roller-coaster rhythms, pointing up its occasional ominous and sad touches as well as its humour, and making the most of the engaging chemistry between the two actors. A delight.