Sunday, January 13, 2013


First impression review: Sudden Death at the Next Stage Theatre Festival

Written by Charlotte Corbeil-Coleman
Directed by Matthew MacKenzie
Starring Tony Nappo
At the Factory Theatre

Critic: Gina Brintnell

Play at a glance

An original and wholeheartedly Canadian dark comedy. Tony Nappo plays John Kordic, “a man at breaking point,” an unstable, former hockey enforcer looking to get back into the game after a seven-year career on four different teams. We find him on the eve of his last big fight - and when the buzzer goes, not even the world's greatest ref could call the immensity of Kordic's wins and losses.

First impression

Nappo begins violently celebratory in his underwear in a seedy motel room - his own gritty and fun spirit sets the mood of the show well. He revels in an unlikely coupling of cocaine and potential paternity - an uncomfortable contradiction that the audience rides along with. He is soon joined by his hallucinatory, drug-induced co-stars who spill out of unlikely and compelling places, alive and surprising. MacKenzie steers his cast well; the production team only helps the show to score.

Highlights

- Greg Gale and Andrew Shaver, the very Canuck hockey commentators, bad ties and cheap suits and slippery glibness kept the audience engaged.

- Brett Donahue rolling out of a well-used motel mini-bar, as the clean-cut and irritating cliché of Wayne Gretzky.

- Nappo's fight with the air was enthralling, a skilled performance in both his portrayal of wounded tenderness and rampant violence. He shows a vulnerability battling for the love of a dead father; he fails to realize he is only throwing knuckles at himself.

The nitpicks

Gale and Shaver's comedy was commendable but the slapstick antics got schlocky fast. The camp was effective but the pace dropped.

Audience’s instant reaction

First, half-hearted chorus of the national anthem - but it picked up, with the thrumming energy of a hockey crowd on game night, when the home team keeps scoring.

Critic’s instant reaction

****

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