Friday, February 5, 2010

And So It Goes

The Factory Theatre presents the world premiere of George F. Walker’s new play And So It Goes until February 28.

It’s about middle class collapse. The play begins with the schizophrenic daughter watching a repo man take dad’s car. Dad was a financial whiz who is now unemployed. He tries pursuing a career as a pastry chef, with mixed results. The wife, meanwhile, has fantasy therapy sessions with the late novelist Kurt Vonnegut. Things get much worse. Eventually, the daughter runs away from home and becomes a crack-addicted homeless street whore. Her body is found with multiple stab wounds. Both parents are devastated. Dad buys a gun and seeks some sort of vengeance, while Mom continues to speak to the dead, both Vonnegut and her daughter. The daughter seems much better off dead, better dressed and more together. The parents eventually become homeless themselves, Dad holding up signs scrawled on cardboard and Mom living in a homeless shelter, guarding people’s shoes. At the end of the play, she tells her late daughter that they’re okay, Dad has his sloganeering and she has her shoe pile.

And So It Goes is not depressing, but despite the inclusion of the witty Kurt Vonnegut, it’s not particularly hilarious, either. I couldn’t help but identify with middle class collapse. I remember being rich in the 90s as well. This thought-provoking 80-minute play is Walker’s 24th show for the Factory Theatre, and his first in ten years, a welcome return for a major Canadian playwright.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Light In the Piazza

Acting Up Stage Company presents the Canadian premiere of The Light In the Piazza running until February 21. Like previous productions from this company, it is done with impeccable taste and style.

The story concerns an American mother who, in 1953, brings her slightly wonky 26-year-old daughter with her to Florence. The girl isn’t there five minutes before falling in love with a cute Italian boy. He doesn’t seem to notice that she is mentally challenged, which doesn’t say much about his acumen. It’s not much of a plot, but I felt for the mother. She is faced with that dilemma, when parents of retarded adults must face the fact that their child is a sexual being with needs.

It’s a lovely production, one that transported me to Italy and made me feel like I myself was on vacation. The sparse set and the well-chosen costumes both work well, and the performances, even when they border on ham, are quite charming. Patty Jamieson, who plays the mother, has a Patricia Clarkson quality, and the Italian brothers are played by good looking actors Jeff Lillico and Michael Torontow. Torontow is especially good at channeling Marcello Mastroianni. I enjoyed The Light In the Piazza very much.