By Adam Collier
The venue is off an alley that runs parallel to Ossington.
“This is already terrific” – the words fell out of my mouth as I went in. There’s not a hint of pretense to the space, but there is a professional look to the set. And the space itself – tall, with an open loft facing the audience – is genuinely novel.
An anecdote that involves an extremely dangerous sexual fetish starts off the show. Though casual in delivery, to call it conversational is to understate its finesse.
One of the most wonderful things, about the characters – and the actors that play them – is that they seem to enjoy interrupting and second-guessing one another. So there’s staccato rhythm to the sound of the words, sort of playful in tone.
The dialogue moves along at a gallop, too.
Occasionally I felt like the rhythm took over what was actually being said, producing an emotional distance between characters that was alienating to me. Even though the characters are coarse, as graphically insulting at times as they are bluntly intellectual, that doesn’t preclude sympathy. But when, for example, a bedroom scene plays at the same speed and intensity as a scene set in a bar, it undercuts my sympathy. I’m not sure I take them seriously.
On the other hand, it got me thinking that maybe these characters are emotionally dysfunctional, and that the lack of distinction between public and private intimacy is intrinsic to the nature of the hunt for sex (and maybe a relationship, too) in a big city.
Begging the question (for me): if sex and sexual perversity are not things that one only shares with a trusted other, what – if anything – is the physical expression of love? Is it – as the play suggests – the most banal acts of affection? Are these characters capable of grasping this given what they value – or say that they value – in experience?
Like Glengarry Glenn Ross (produced earlier this summer at Soulpepper), Sexual Perversity in Chicago left my friend and me a lot to talk about after the performance.
So I’d strongly recommend this production. It’s a great text, performed by very likable actors that are comfortable with one another, and the venue is terrific.
– Sexual Perversity in Chicago is playing at Unit C, 102 Foxley Place (it’s an alleyway that runs parallel to Ossington, about half-a-block to the west of it)
– It runs Monday to Friday (August 16th to 20th), and Monday to Saturday (August 23rd to 28th) at 8pm. With a special 11-m show on Friday the 20th (I attended this one, and it cool to see a show so late at night)
– The production stars Benjamin Blais (as “Dan”), Joe Dinicol (as “Bernie”), Carrie-Lynn Neales (as “Joan”), and Kate Ziegler (as “Deb”). It was directed by David Tompa. The technical direction was by Kelly Read. The set / tech construction was by Mac Fyfe, Brenhan McKibben, and Tyrone Savage.