DISTRICT OF CENTURIES by Sean Dixon, directed by Jorge Nef (Sound the Canon). At Walmer Centre Theatre (188 Lowther). To August 25. $15, stu/srs $10. 647-504-7234. Rating: NNN
Sean Dixon's plays are filled with intriguing characters held together by a touch of poetry and a dab of fantasy.
District Of Centuries, in part about the strength of storytelling and the power of the word, juggles those elements nicely.
Its central figure, Pale, who claims to be the saddest man in the world, believes that anyone who comes in contact with him will die. He's withdrawn to a place called the District of Centuries, where he's sought by Seamus, a brother he doesn't know; Emily, a letter-writing woman who's taken a fancy to him; and Grundel, the architect of the District.
The script has been revised since it premiered in Toronto a dozen years ago, and it's this version that a new company, Sound the Canon, stages. Director Jorge Nef understands its rhythms, its touches of whimsy and much of its heart.
The most consistent performance is that of David Tripp as Ballad, who handles his speeches with admirable buoyancy.
Blending the character's anger and humour with a striking physicality that communicates as much as does Dixon's script, Tripp is the most watchable figure onstage.
Most of the others have their moments, though they don't always snap into dramatic focus. Chris New's Seamus is best in an episode of storytelling, while Steven Arkle's eccentric Grundel develops as he plays off Seamus. Arlin Dixon's Emily becomes believably impassioned in the play's last scenes.
Less convincing is Scott Gorman's Pale, who needs more wit, irony and emotion to make Pale the key to this tale.