SummerWorks review: The Nails

THE NAILS by Jason Maghanoy (jsquared.theatre/SummerWorks). At Factory Studio. Aug 6 at 2:45 pm, Aug 7 at 7:15 pm, Aug.



THE NAILS
by Jason Maghanoy (jsquared.theatre/SummerWorks). At Factory Studio. Aug 6 at 2:45 pm, Aug 7 at 7:15 pm, Aug 8 at 10 pm, Aug 10 at 7:30 pm, Aug 12 at 4:15 pm, Aug 13 at 1 pm. See listing. Rating: NNNN

Playwright Jason Maghanoy shows the ugliness of poverty, racism and homophobia in The Nails, but its the beauty of the unbreakable bond between a teenage brother and sister that makes this drama so remarkable.

Ally (Jeysa Caridad) and Josh (Jake Runeckles) are forced to spend the summer with their father Roger (Alexander Thomas) who lives itinerantly in the southern U.S. trying to scrape together a living. Bored, lonely and struggling to fit in, Ally takes up running while Josh tries to hookup on Grindr with a local (William Ellis). When Joshs date doesnt go as planned, the disappointed and frustrated siblings take action.

Caridad carries the play and brings a believable blend of naivety and maturity to her role as 14-year-old Ally. She and Runeckles have a natural rapport as they help each other through the difficulties of growing up. Some of the funniest and most poignant scenes occur between Ally and a young neighbour (Ellie Ellwand). Ellwand is remarkable playing a poor local girl brought up in a racist culture but trying to navigate a new friendship with outsider Caridad.

Maghanoys script could do a better job at explaining the familys precarious situation, but it really captures that moment of adolescence on the cusp of adulthood, and the heartbreak and joy that comes with it.

The set design by Christine Urquhart is spare but highly functional, including a huge, multi-purpose three-way mirror. Tanya Rintouls direction incorporates much physicality with the teenagers often horsing around or meandering through town or a store. Allys running scenes, in which shes tethered to the set with a retractable pully, creates a powerful image.

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