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by Jan Derbyshire, James O’Shea and Victoria Maxwell
Solo Collective
Playwrights Theatre Centre Studio, Granville Island
October 25-November 4
$21/$15 at 604-231-7535
Shadbolt Centre for the Arts, Burnaby
November 8-11
$28/$25/$15$/12 at 604-205-3000

The unique dramatic format of this Solo Collective show brings together three original monologues by different playwrights, each with its own performer and director.  The result is an entertaining spectrum of different themes and styles. Crazy Talk is the overall title but each playlet manifests its own kind of craziness. From the manic-depressive experience of bi-polar disorder to the hilarious nuttiness of an audition to the sober insanity of war, it’s a mad mad world out there.

In Life Line, the opening piece by Victoria Maxwell, Jane Heyman directs Lara Gilchrist as a bi-polar young woman who has gone off her meds.  Sam is overwrought and speedy. Wearing a leopard-print bathing suit, she tells an incoherent story about talking to a cat and listening to the grass to try to learn where she’s left her shoe so she can find her Prince Charming.

Things come into focus when she introduces her boyfriend and lifeline Bob, recounts their budding relationship, and explains what happened when she revealed her medical history to him and he saw her at her full-blown worst. It isn’t pretty but it’s certainly powerful. In a brave if slightly mannered performance, Gilchrist manages to find both the humour and awfulness of her character’s helpless descents into the abyss of her condition.

The woman in Jan Derbyshire’s The Audition of an Embarrassed Woman, directed by David Mackay, also descends into craziness but she chooses to. Dawn Petten is exhaustingly funny as an actress who finds herself in an absurdly fantasmagoric audition. Asked to do a string of the most weirdly impossible things, she proceeds to do them all without hesitation.

From playing “an intelligent, confused woman in a style that resembles an epileptic fit with rhythm” to enacting a battle between feminists and traditionalists—with one breast in her bra and one out—Petten pulls one terrific gag after another out of her bottomless bag of comic tricks. This was easily the audience favourite of the night.

Things turn serious again with James O’Shea’s Thbump, directed by Del Surjik. Derek Metz plays a Canadian peacekeeper on a UN mission in some unspecified country where the two sides in a civil war “keep passing on hatred like it’s the most precious gift they have.”  Metz’s soldier seems pretty solid except that he went a little crazy on a de-mining detail, and he’s got this verbal hiccup “thbump” which unconsciously slips into his sentences. It’s the sound a shell makes but also, he tells us, the sound of his heartbeat which lets him know he’s still alive.

Halloween gives us one day to celebrate the irrational. Crazy Talk reminds us that irrationality in many forms is with us all year long.

Jerry Wasserman

last updated: Thursday, November 2, 2006 11:07 AM
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