THE MADMAN AND THE NUN by Witkacy, directed by Peter Sudenis, with Gary Graham, Lucy Eveleigh, Rhys Bevan-John, Alex Hall and Varda Shomrony. Presented by Theatre Offstage at 823 Manning. Runs to July 1, Thursday-Saturday 8 pm, matinee Sunday 2:30 pm. $12, Sunday pwyc. 416-277-2786. Rating: NN
polish artist witkacy (stanis-law Ignacy Witkiewicz, 1885-1939) experimented with painting, theatre, photography and drugs -- among other things -- and wrote philosophically and passionately about his interests. Theatre Offstage presents his play The Madman And The Nun as a nod to Witkacy's investigation of theatre of the absurd.To judge the quality of his work, audiences need something better than director Peter Sudenis's production.
It starts well enough, with viewers led to a dank-smelling church basement that stands in for an asylum cell. Talk about appropriate atmosphere.
But the story -- several doctors, aided by a nun, try to cure a straitjacketed inmate -- is amateurishly presented, and most of the performers either underplay or overplay their parts.
If the title figures clicked, the piece would have more depth, but Lucy Eveleigh's Sister Anna is all surface, and leaps to the sensual without first setting up her spiritual side. Gary Graham alone suggests a rich inner life as Alexander Walpurg , the seductive and dangerous madman and poet who proves cannier than his jailers and doctors.