SPAIN written and directed by Michael Rubenfeld, with Kimwun Perehinec, Gray Powell and Aaron Willis. Presented by Absit Omen at Theatre Passe Muraille Backspace. August 6 and 14 at 5 pm, August 7 at 9:30 pm, August 9 at 8 pm, August 11 at 6:30 pm, August 12 at 11 pm, August 15 at 3:30 pm. Rating: NNNNN
At what point does an intimate relationship become a dependency? That was Michael Rubenfeld's starting point for Spain, a three-hander in which Eric's partner, Beth, goes away for several months and he gets close to another man, Jared. Things become tense when Beth returns.
"I also wanted to explore what happens when two heterosexual guys get close in ways that straight men aren't allowed to in our society," says Rubenfeld.
"It's ultimately not about whether one or the other is gay, but about the kinds of dependencies they set up. We sometimes get caught up in the idea that we need specific people in our lives, that without them we can't go on. What often happens is that we put things onto other people so we don't have to deal with our own issues."
Spain grew out of Rubenfeld's involvement with Absit Omen, initially a loose collective of performers who also want to tackle writing. His previous SummerWorks show, last year's Present Tense, also emerged from the group.
"Performers usually have some sense of a community, but writing can be a solitary effort," notes Rubenfeld, who trained as an actor at the National Theatre School.
"Initially, writing was a scary process for me, but Absit Omen is a safe environment. People know they can fail - possibly even fail big - and learn something from it.
"I'm constantly in a workshop with lots of feedback that won't coddle me and tell me what I want to hear, but, rather, what I need to hear."
Spain is a spare piece of writing, filled with subtext that the actors and director Rubenfeld have to layer in.
"In most plays, subtext is more interesting than what's actually said. Here, a lot of it revolves around people searching for what to say because they can't say what they mean."