Goodnight, Amherst (Teatro Communique) – 2010 Fringe Festival Toronto

By Adam Collier

Goodnight, Amherst is in production at the Bathurst Street Theatre, a large venue with a wide, deep stage. A local company named Teatro Communique is behind the work. It runs as part of Fringe.

Goodnight Amherst opens with a sequence of vignettes set in the kitchen and dining room of a family home. We see the three generations that live there tease one another, revealing some acrimony between them and hinting at changes (new romantic relationships, job promotions).

The vignettes culminate with a family dinner that an unshaven man in slightly rumpled clothing interrupts. As it turns-out this is Michael, a sibling in the third generation. He has been in prison for twelve-years, and just broke-out.

What follows is a shaky reunion. Michael is resentful toward his mom, the object of scorn for his younger brother, and his sister wants to run-away with him.

Michael reaches a truce with his mom and younger brother. But, in the closing moments of the play, discloses to his grandmother that he has turned himself in.

Each actor does a good job. By the end of vignette sequence, I bought into the situation. And Michael, “the prodigal son” as his younger brother calls him (book-ending the phrase with expletives) is likeable enough; portrayed by James Fanizza (also the playwright).

Production notes for Goodnight, Amherst describe it as a profile of a broken family (not as a play about one). As a collection of overlapping characters, connected by blood and proxy, this show is a strong, effective exercise.

A polite round of applause came at the end of the show.

Details

Goodnight, Amherst plays at the Bathurst Street Theatre (736 Bathurst Street)

– Remaining performances include: Tuesday July 6th at 5:00PM; Wednesday July 7th at 7:30PM; Friday July 9th at 11:00PM; Saturday July 10th at 4:00PM, and; Sunday July 11th at Noon