By Henry Smith
Balls – a comedy about testicular cancer – was the second performance of the “Show Us Yours” series that Kathy and I attended. (See Kathy’s review of Giant Invisible Robot here.)
A big fan of inappropriate humour, and terrible puns, I found myself laughing wholeheartedly through the entire performance. That is, until the final scene, which held the silent audience rapt, reminding us of the seriousness of the topic.
Rob Salerno and Garett Watson showed a strong rapport, convincingly portraying two lifelong friends enduring the fear and confusion of facing mortality in their early 20s. As Paul Tulio and Bastian Faerber respectively they showed an ease between them that is only present in such long-term friendships.
However, while the scenes jumped from their childhood to university-age fairly frequently, the actors did not show us a change in age or mentality in their performance from one time period to the next. The childhood versions of Paul and Bastian were exactly the same as their older roles.
However, my only complaints about the show were the inconsistency with age, and what felt like poorly timed and designed lighting. This play managed to bring notice to a serious ailment, while still being entertaining and lighthearted throughout.
Kathy wasn’t quite as charitable with the show. She found it decidedly more amateurish than I did, though she felt that was mainly in the performances and the technical aspects than problems with the actual script. Although, since she is in the theatre industry, perhaps the higher expectations are to be expected.
She felt the set design was functional, if a little more complicated than it needed to be. She also said that “it was really hard to watch two people with incredibly bad haircuts for an hour”. (ed. note: I suspect that the fact Kathy noticed the hair so much is an indication that the piece did not engage her, since really, bad hair isn’t generally presented as a theatre issue – plus, one person’s bad hair is another person’s terribly hip hair. Just something I’m learning as I get older. – megan)
But I feel like most of the problems could have been solved with a strong director with a firm hand, and a good ear for pacing. Kathy also felt that with the right person in charge, the piece could have made huge steps forward.
During this performance, I found myself reminiscing of old friendships, remembering cancer scares in my circle, admiring the smutty prop magazines, and suddenly feeling charitable. A play that can do that is a play well worth watching.
-The “Show Us Yours” Series runs from May 5-17, featuring Balls (May 5-17), Giant Invisible Robot (May 5-10), and The Sputniks (May 12-17) at the Lower Ossington Theatre (100A Ossington Ave.)
-Tickets are $19 for any one show, $29 for Balls and either of the other shows, or $38 for a pass to all three shows.
-Tickets are available at the door, by phone (416 915 6747), online or at TOTix in Yonge-Dundas Square. hipTIX have been made available to all shows through TOTix.
Photo of Rob Salerno and Garett Watson by Jenna Wakani