Next Stage Festival – Icarus Redux

By: Darryl D’Souza

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Watching Icarus Redux at the Next Stage Festival was a strange experience for me. I can’t say that I loved it, but I didn`t loathe it either. The gap between the original myth of Icarus and Daedalus and this production is rather enormous. 

If you don’t know the myth, basically Daedalus, imprisoned in Crete with his son Icarus, devised a pair of wings made out of wax and feathers to escape captivity. He warned Icarus not to fly too close to the sea, as the wing’s feathers would get wet. And, more notoriously, not to fly too close to the sun as the heat would cause the wax attaching the wings to melt. Icarus flew too close to the sun, the wax melted, and he plummeted to his death into the sea. Daedalus mourned the loss of his son, whose death he had caused by creating the wings. 

Here’s where Icarus Redux picks up. It’s about the relationship between a father and son, seemingly imprisoned in their home (a modern Crete). 

 The play has an intimate cast of two, Jonathan Whittaker as Daedalus, and Sean O’Neill, as his son Icarus. They both gave fairly good performances. The play was written and directed by co-star Sean O’Neill. I enjoyed him as an actor and as a director, but I have a problem with O’Neill’s writing. I thought it was rather mediocre. I didn`t find it to have any particular depth or wit, and it didn`t have anything meaningful to say to me. 

O’Neill is rather young though, and as a result, likely inexperienced, which may explain why the writing felt uninspired to me. Perhaps by and by he’ll improve as a writer; although given the strength in his offering as an actor and director, perhaps he`ll focus on those avenues. 

O`Neill`s direction, the set design, the use of puppets, and occasional sparse lighting were all interesting.

The characters, to a certain extent, were also interesting. 

Icarus is an introverted, incontinent, probably gay young man who’s afraid to face the world outside. Everything from “birds to buses” frighten him. His father, Daedalus, who seems insane, appears to be just as alienated from the world around. 

Perhaps as a result of being completely isolated from other people, the relationship between Icarus and Daedalus becomes somewhat sexual, though never fully consummated. Both characters say: “I wonder if our penises look identical”. On occasions like this, as well as when Icarus actually propositions his father, made for awkward moments amongst the audience – some slightly laughing (perhaps to hide their discomfort), others completely unresponsive. 

If it sounds like you might be offended by the play’s sexuality, you might want to avoid this one. Though, to be fair, I think they tried to make it less offensive, the advisory warned there would be nudity and there wasn’t. The running time was cut from 75 minutes to a couple of minutes over an hour, so something was certainly removed. 

So who’ll like Icarus Redux? People who value creative production aspects over actual scripts. I’m not one of them though. I`m a bit of a culture snob. I only read `high brow` literature. For me, if the writing is mediocre, it ruins the whole play. But, the production is more than the script, so if you’re interested in seeing Icarus Redux as part of the Next Stage Festival, and enjoy creative productions, don`t let this review stop you.

Details
Icarus Redux is playing as part of the Next Stage Festival in the Factory Studio Space.
-Runtime: 65 min.
-Remaining Showtimes of Icarus Redux:
Jan. 13- 6:30pm
Jan. 14- 7:30pm
Jan. 15- 5:30pm
Jan. 16- 9:15pm
Jan. 17- 9:15pm

-Tickets are $15.00 for evening performances (7pm and after) and $12 for afternoon performances.
-Tickets can be purchased at the door, online, or by calling 416-966-1062 (Toll free 1-866-515-7799).

(Photo of Jonathan Whittaker and Sean O’Neill Courtesy of Adam)