Review: Cut (Radioactive Ladybird Productions)

Cut at The Storefront Theatre Toronto. From L to R: Laura Salvas, Seema Lakhani, Hartley Jafine. Photo by Tina McCulloch Radioactive Ladybird presents Cut, a play by Crystal Skillman at Toronto’s Storefront Theatre

Tonight, I was eager to see the play Cut, a comic drama about a production team racing against the clock to complete the season finale of a trashy reality series. The play is written by Crystal Skillman and produced by Radioactive Ladybird Productions at The Storefront Theatre.

It was my first time at this theatre and I was surprised at how decent it was considering the space they had to work with. Unfortunately, it was stifling hot in there and not only were my guest and I uncomfortable, but it was obvious the audience was too judging by all the program fanning I saw.

The show itself started very slowly in my opinion and didn’t ever really gain momentum. The play read like a novel. The dialogue at times seemed unnatural and staccato and I kept thinking “people don’t talk like that in real life”. I found it jarring and unnecessarily complicated which made it hard to follow the story.

Sadly, that wasn’t the play’s only problem. Many of the scenes were played to the audience in solo moments by the actors. Sure, it is written that way, but half the time I had no idea who the actors were talking to. Were they talking to us? Were they talking to a camera crew? Were they talking to a character that wasn’t there?

Sometimes, the actors would even voice the retorts of characters that we never see; almost having entire conversations with themselves. This was all just too confusing. That mechanism didn’t really work for me and just muddled the story even more.

The actors, Hartley Jafine, Seema Lakhani and Laura Salvas were all clearly trying their best to make sense out of a busy script, but I felt the performances were forced and over-acted. The show wanted to be funny so badly but most of the time only got a few polite laughs from forgiving audience members. I think this might have thrown the actors into working harder for the jokes to land but sadly, the script fell short on those.

In all fairness, some of the better scenes occurred when the actors were actually playing off of each other, but Skillman writes the script in such a way that a lot of the time they rarely get to do so. The monologues sounded like stage directions strung together by gesticulation and over the top emotion. There was a lot of internal dialogue spoken out loud which I found unnecessary.

The script also did a lot of time hopping which further derailed me from the story. I still don’t know what it was truly all about. It was just too hard to keep track of when the play was happening in the past or present or how any of it tied in.

In the end, I thought Cut had a lot of writing flaws. I felt restless during the play because it never fully grabbed me and brought me in. The fact that I found it hard to follow and thought that it was altogether too busy made it a chore for me to get through. My guest agreed with me. Ultimately, I think the actors might have fared better if the play had been workshopped a little more.


Photo of (L-R) Laura Salvas, Seema Lakhani, Hartley Jafine by Tina McCulloch