Saturday, January 14, 2012

First Impression review: Tomasso's Party at the Next Stage Theatre Festival.

Critic: Peter McLaren

Play At A Glance: Hugo (Simon Bracken), a self-loathing, weak man in a bathrobe pathetically demands answers out of his lover, Madeleine (Leah Doz), who reveals a collection of admissions he'd rather not hear.

First Impression: A puzzling, unsettling, meandering dialogue between a man and a woman's back. Lewis draws out the play with a collection of clever, reiterative sentences peppered with a handful of witty lines. Doz, holding all the power, gets as much play out her back, left arm and hand as she possibly can, never revealing her face until the curtain. All the while, Bracken wanders, barks and whines through his teeth, like a mistreated, sorry puppy.

Highlights: Doublessly, the highlight of the play is Doz, who straddles the line between blatant eroticism and playful charm. The play picks up the pace towards the end, the focus shifting towards Doz's oppressive, controlling sensuality, a welcome relief from the histrionics of Bracken's Hugo.

Nitpicks: Unfortunately, the play ends as soon as this new tone has been obtained. It all seems rather unfair for Mr. Bracken, who is clearly trying as hard as he can, but Hugo's insufferable fixations on his own inadequacies get old quickly.

Audience Instant-Reaction: The audience politely giggled at the Lewis's smart, well-executed jokes, but seemed distracted by the stomping feet coming from upstairs (which is absolutely not the fault of the production). Appreciative.

Critics Instant Reaction:
2 Stars

Note from Nestruck: This review was written as part of a workshop on theatre criticism and time constraints. Participants were asked to file a review within one hour of seeing a show of their choice at Toronto's Next Stage festival.

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