CARESSES by Sergi Belbel, directed by Victor Correia (Concentrate in Time). At Winchester Street Theatre (80 Winchester). To October 19. Pwyc-$25. totix.ca. Rating: NN
Structured like Schnitzler's play La Ronde, Sergi Belbel's Caresses is a daisy chain of a play: each of its 11 two-person scenes contains one character from the previous episode, until we come full circle at the end.
But these caresses aren't suggestive of tenderness. Instead, Belbel looks at the viciousness, physical and verbal, that can infect a relationship.
Beginning with an abusive couple and ending with a scene that has the potential for affection, we're witness to a series of encounters between husbands and wives, parents and children, siblings and others, each of whom needs a warm human connection but is forced to go on the defensive...or the attack.
The Concentrate in Time production, directed by Victor Correia, catches only some of the subtleties of the script, with the actors, too often on the surface of their roles. Since there's some double casting, at times it's difficult to sort out exactly which character we're watching. Scene changes, too, can be needlessly busy.
The best work comes from Jennifer Wade as a spirited but troubled woman who may or may not be meeting her former lover, Amanda Barker and Adrian Proszowski as a couple whose seemingly ordinary dialogue quickly degenerates into a hard-hitting battle, Proszowski as an invective-spouting homeless man and Barker as a cast-off lover who wins a battle of bitchiness with the partner who rejects her.
There's an element of sensuality in several of the scenes, but it's rarely suggested in this production. One main exception is the encounter between two brothers, Ryan Browne and Stevie Jay, an episode tinged with a nicely ambiguous sexuality.
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