Review by Adam Collier
I just assumed, when I read that The Tricky Part was from Capetown, that Martin Moran the playwright was from South Africa, too. He’s actually from Denver. Not that it’s hugely significant, just that it was a bit of a surprise to me when the performer Peter Hayes told me in his South African accent that he was going to act out a story of a boy in Colorado.
I never quite got over the accent so I never really bought that Hayes was actually the character he’s acting. But as the story relies less on re-enacting moments and more of lucid descriptions of them, Hayes relaxes a lot. He has a gift for emotions not accents. And for me, as he was required to do fewer voice impressions, and really focus on the catharsis of Moran’s story, he got much, much better.
About a third of the way through the performance it became really clear to me where the story was going. I sat back in my chair, and crossed my arms. I wasn’t consciously reacting to the show; I just couldn’t help putting-up a barrier to the type of material I knew was coming. Still I found myself absolutely absorbed by this show.
As a character named Martin, Hayes spoils out the details of two major events in his life. One as a twelve-year-old boy, on a camping trip with another boy named George and a man named Bob from school. Bob molests Martin on this trip.
As Martin explains in the second confrontation – meeting Bob in a Veteran’s Hospital after seeking him out – this began a perverse desperate relationship that went on for years. Martin became dependent on Bob, he tells us, because, paradoxically, actively pursuing the relationship is the only relief he gets from just thinking about the relationship.
These experiences, which are brilliantly woven together, begin about a half-hour into the show. Up to this point the performance was a bit shaky. Hayes’ voice sounded odd – wavering in the high-pitched impressions at which he was aiming – leading me to wonder if he was tense (even though this show has been performed around the world, it is after all still an opening night). Reinforcing my impression of tension was the sort-of anxious energy Hayes exuded at first. To me it seemed like he was working way too hard to keep our attention. This all changes though.
The Tricky Part is the first work of theatre I’ve seen where it seemed that the performer goes through as much trauma and genuine catharsis as the writing demands. I got the impression that, about half-way through the show Hayes felt a huge burst of confidence, and truth be-told, the material is intrinsically fascinating by this time. As cute as some of the early anecdotes are, they seemed over-long and oddly digressive to me.
My hope is that in the precious few performances of The Tricky Part that are still to go on, Hayes is able to relax in the first-third of the show. Clearly, when he feels comfortable Hayes has more than enough talent to surmount the challenge of performing as boy from Colorado.
– The Tricky Part by the Hearts And Minds Theatre Collective is on at the Factory Studio Theatre (South of Queen, just west of Bathurst)
– The remaining shows are Sunday July 6th at 1:45 PM, Monday July 7th at 4:45, Tuesday July 8th at 8:30, Thursday July 10th at 12:15 PM, and Saturday July 12th at 10:30
– Tickets are $10 at the door and are available through the Toronto Fringe Festival website