Review: Sextet

SEXTET by Morris Panych (Tarragon, 30 Bridgman). Runs to December 14. $23-$55, some $15 rush. 416-531-1827, See Continuing. Rating:.

SEXTET by Morris Panych (Tarragon, 30 Bridgman). Runs to December 14. $23-$55, some $15 rush. 416-531-1827, See Continuing. Rating: NNNN

If you think chamber musicians are all sexless and cerebral, Morris Panychs Sextet should set you straight. Well, not quite straight, but you know what I mean.

The members of a string sextet are trapped in a Canadian motel while a winter storm builds outside. Inside, things are getting steamy, what with the closeted Harry (Damien Atkins) shacked up with his crush, the straight Dirk (Matthew Edison), whos lusting after Sylvia (Laura Condlln), who happens to be Harrys best friend.

The troupes one official couple, Gerard (Bruce Dow) and Mavis (Rebecca Northan) arent exactly monogamous. Hes got a roving hand and an androgynous wardrobe, while shes performed a duet with the groups sixth member, Otto (Jordan Pettle).

As the moon peeks through their rooms windows, they turn into libidinous leches when they really should be rehearsing Schoenbergs Transfigured Night.

Panychs script (he also directs) is witty and full of suggestive language: wrist vibrato sounds so much more elegant than masturbation, doesnt it? And while it takes a while to figure out who these narcissistic, solipsistic characters are and what (not just who) they want, their needs soon become clear.

So does Panychs philosophy of discord and harmony in the universe.

Its hard to imagine a better production. Ken MacDonalds set of six identical beds and doors with an adjoining hallway behind them is simply stunning, and Kimberly Purtells lighting helps suggest other rooms and areas, including a motel pool (nice echo effect in this scene from Thomas Ryder Paynes sound design).

And the actors understand the heightened, farcical style, especially Atkins (whose harried cellist is like a tightly wound string), Edison (who expertly channels his inner dim bro) and Dow and Northan, who bring lots of pluck to their pronouncements and wily machinations.

In the end, Sextet produces some beautiful harmonies and richly humane observations.

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