By Adam Collier
As part of The Fringe, a festival of theatre that has been running in Toronto each summer for twenty-two years, Being At Home With Claude plays at the Tarragon Mainspace. A local company called Hirioc produces the show.
A character is onstage before the house lights go down. He appears in a daze, slowly wandering the space.
When the stage lights come-up that character is sitting, and two men are with him. One is standing. The other is working the keys of a stenograph machine.
What follows is an exchange between the upright man (a detective) and the seated one (a suspect in a murder), slouching a bit in his chair, with lots of questions and lengthy, tangential responses as answers.
The detective especially, exudes frustration. After a few minutes he kicks-out the stenographer with the promise of – in contemporary parlance what we call – actionable intelligence from the suspect.
But the suspect continues to obfuscate (avoiding direct answers).
When another cop (in the black slacks, nearly incandescent white shirt with thin black tie of the stenographer and detective) delivers a dossier of information, the tone of this interrogation changes. Now the detective seems to have the upper hand.
As it turns out, this shift in power is fleeting.
The information is spurious (not enough to draw any concrete conclusions). And the detective seems to have very few tactics available to draw more information from the suspect.
So it is entirely up to the suspect to volunteer information. And he does so in lengthy, image-rich, emotionally and intellectually probing, monologues.
The audience members in my row were either leaning forward or cupping their chins. One line (that included the phrase ‘day-glow orange beads’) provoked laughs.
Generally the audience was still (not sighing or shifting positions), and for me, save for a few minutes when the wings of a bug shone brightly in the lights as it bounced around them, the experience was hypnotic.
What I found interesting is what its playwright Rene-Danier Dubois has to say about the nature of love. The final monologue of Being At Home With Claude for example, offers an exploration of desire, guilt and the threshold between passion and violence.
For all that’s made in the publicity notes of the themes of homosexuality and prostitution in Being At Home With Claude, they didn’t seem particularly provocative.
After the show I asked a man what he thought of it. He replied with a smile, “Well that was definitely worth ten bucks.”
– Being At Home With Claude is a production of Hirioc
– The show plays at the Tarragon Mainspace (30 Bridgman Avenue)
– Starring Ryan Fischer, Lorne Hiro, and Ross Tundo
– Scheduled performances: Tuesday July 6th at 10:30PM; Wednesday July 7th at Noon; Thursday July 8th at 7:30PM, and; Saturday July 10th at 4:00PM