Company: We'll Do It Live Productions, Winnipeg, MB
Venue: 4 - Alloway Hall (Manitoba Museum)
Guare’s work is strong enough that this production is worth seeing, despite the clumsiness and lack of nuance in many of the performances and directorial choices.
This production consists of four short plays by absurdist New York playwright John Guare, directed and performed by an ensemble of Winnipeg actors. Guare's scripts are complex, lovely, and sad; the program notes promise silliness and realism, cruelty and compassion.
Regrettably, most of this production was performed with the over-the-top, migraine-inducing chaotic intensity (and self-conscious performativity) of seventh-graders on the last day of school. Perhaps the cast was over-reacting to opening night nerves, but I left the theatre exhausted, feeling I'd been shouted at for an hour.
Much of this production felt forced and emotionally untrue. If the actors had dialed it down and played it straight, the surrealism and pathos in the script could have lifted off, emotionally engaging the audience, making us believe in this alternately-configured world, and letting it break our hearts. (Instead of our eardrums).
There were some authentically compelling performances throughout the show. Curtis Moore achieved a quiet, affecting vulnerability as a lonely librarian whose lover has just been eaten by a stone lion. "New York Actor" offers up some delicious, hilarious, and intentionally despairing commentary on the world of theatre.
Guare's work is strong enough that this production is worth seeing, despite the clumsiness and lack of nuance in many of the performances and directorial choices.