By Darryl D’Souza
Yesterday I had the pleasure of seeing Over, a very well written play at the Somewhere There Theatre (340 Dufferin St.). The play is about, among other things, the incestuous love between Mann (played by: Eric Double), and his sister Otter (played by: Julia Nish-Lapidus). This production of Over is the first play to be performed by the newly formed Theatre Caravel theatre company, whose co-founders are actors: Eric Double and Julia Nish-Lapidus.
Over was written about 17 years ago by Toronto based playwright/performance artist Darren O’Donnell. This was at least the fourth staging, including one in 1994 by acclaimed playwright/filmmaker Daniel MacIvor.
The play is not a serious drama about the transgression of sexual boundaries between a brother and sister, but rather a comedy very much in the tradition of the Theatre of the Absurd. While I admit that I didn’t laugh as often as the others in the audience, I certainly did appreciate the calibre of writing.
Over was similar to Samuel Beckett in its profound depth, to Tom Stoppard in its constant use of wordplay, to Eugene Ionesco in its intentional overuse of platitudes, and the overall immorality of the subject matter is reminiscent of Harold Pinter’s The Homecoming, (where one wife is shared with several brothers).
I’ve already said that part of what made this production of Over so good was certainly the writing, but the play’s two actors, Eric and Julia, were also phenomenal as Mann and Otter.
I was also very much enamoured with the set. The Somewhere There Theatre is about the size of a large downtown apartment, with a seating capacity of about 20-25 people. I felt like I’d walked into a real apartment, the home of Mann and Otter. This was very much what Eric and Julia, as well as directors Tracy Bradley and Chelsea Ferrando had set out to do. The “theatre” is even equipped with a fridge full of beer, which the audience is welcome to help themselves to.
If you’re hesitant about seeing a play about incest, (I think my editor was,) then I would say don’t worry, you have nothing to fear about seeing this one. Within the absurdist context of Over the love between Mann and Otter is hardly shocking, perhaps because they don’t seem like real characters. With Absurd plays this isn’t a criticism, as it may be with other types of plays.
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern (the protagonists of Stoppard’s most popular and arguably best play) aren’t realistic characters either, nor are they meant to be, and these are the types of characters that Mann and Otter should be compared with.
If on the other hand you hate the Theatre of the Absurd, then you should probably steer clear of this one. If you have no idea what Absurdist theatre is you might either want to see this play, or just read something by one or more of the authors listed above; even Darren O’Donnell has several published works. After seeing Over I just might visit a library to read some of O’Donnell’s plays myself.
Sadly, this review of Over might reach you a little too late as there are only two more performances of this play. One is on November 2nd and the other is on November 3rd, both at 8 pm. Tickets are $10 (online) or $12 (at the door). If you don’t manage to see this show you can at least look forward to whatever play Theatre Caravel, run by Eric Double and Julia Nish-Lapidus, choose to perform next.
Details: Somewhere There Theatre (340 Dufferin Street) Runs from: Oct 27- Nov. 3 at 8pm. Tickets: $10 (online) or $12 (at the door) Buy tickets at: www.TheatreCaravel.com
Photo of Eric Double and Julia Nish-Lapidus by: Sean Lypaczewski