by Sam Mooney
Them & Us, playing at Theatre Passe Muraille, isn’t really a play; it’s a series of vignettes. All these portraits and sketches focus on male-female relationships and the trouble we have connecting with each other.
You’re going to want to see this one with a friend, because you’re going to want to talk about it afterwards. It would be ideal to go with a friend of the opposite sex. That way you can ask if women say “I don’t believe in romantic love” or if men say “I want to stab you with a fork…in the shoulder”, or if those seem to just be ‘guy things’ or ‘girl things’.
Tracy Dawson, the writer, is a Second City alumnus so you know that you’re going to laugh but don’t go expecting 90 minutes of belly laughter. The humour is more about recognizing yourself in a character or a situation.
Actually, the humour is about recognizing someone else in a character or situation. Always funnier when it’s someone else.
The vignette format works really well; each one is like a very short play. The characters are so well developed and acted that you know the back story right away. I liked the format a lot.
The one downside was the small audience. The energy on stage is always affected by the energy in the audience. People ramp each other up. This is a show that deserves a big audience. In fact, I’d say that a show like this needs a bigger audience to develop the energy and buzz that connects the cast and audience. Even if I went with someone who I could have nudged when when I recognized someone in a character, the overall energy would still not be as high as it could be with a fuller house.
This didn’t dampen my enjoyment of the show. I thought it was great and really recommend it.
Ideally go to see Them & Us with a friend you’ve known for a long time. That way you’ll recognize each other’s relationships on-stage and you’ll have a great conversation over coffee after the show. “OMG, Brent was Dave! Exactly!!!”
– Them & Us plays at Theatre Passe Muraille (16 Ryerson Ave ) until January 31, 2009
– The show show runs Tuesday to Saturday at 8 pm with a 2.30 pm matinee on Saturday
– Tickets are $15.00 and can be purchased on-line, in person, or by phone – 416.504.7529
Photo of Sarah Dodd, Tracy Dawson, Gray Powell and Michael Healey by Lindsay Anne Black