Review: You Are Here (Rep21)

by Jenna Rocca

By Jenna Rocca

Rep 21 is the culmination of the work of final year students of the Canadore College Theatre Arts program, a production series that was this year staged at Theatre Passe Muraille.

One of the season’s productions was Daniel MacIvor’s You Are Here, a sentimental and miserable tale of a young woman who seems to have no motivations, specific ambitions, or desires. It inevitably ends messily and left this reviewer wondering why she should really care about the character, when it seemed from the outset that she never really cared about herself.

Madelaine Redican plays Alison, the anti-heroine who tells her own story through monologue, whine, and vignettes. Personally, I wasn’t a fan of the tone of MacIvor’s piece, it felt overly stilted and repetitive, perhaps to be more naturalistic sounding. Despite that, Redicon makes an attempt to make it all seem charming and sincere, pounding her eyebrows against her forehead with determined earnestness.

Joshua Bainbridge, as her Kevin Smith-like best-friend-who-is-obviously-the-love-of-her-life-but-no-one-seems-to-care gives a pretty dull character some charm. He’s really the only thing that seems to ever cheer Alison up. But this is all in vain when he suddenly becomes a suicidal drug-addict with no forewarning, aside from the earlier establishment that he is addiction-prone. Alison’s character, however neurotic, doesn’t seem to have a pre-existing tendency to become an addict, but their narratives each reach the same tragic conclusions.

There is a lot of pretty late-nineties quasi-spiritualism through which Alison tries to make sense of her life by referring to the “You Are Here” sticker on mall maps, using banal, almost childlike language. She speaks with very deliberate repetition and trips in MacIvor’s writing. This style, common to many modern playwrights, such as Harold Pinter, attempts to mimic the natural course of speaking. To me it actually sounds more stiff: “I knew I wanted to. I knew I wanted to blah, blah, blah. I wanted to,” for example.

The students of Canadore College did what they could with what felt like lifeless and draining material and pretty straight directing by an instructor. In fact, the students’ enthusiasm was quite penetrable.

This production ran in July of 2010, more information can be found on the Rep 21 website. It will be interesting to see what they bring us in the summer of 2011.

3 thoughts on “Review: You Are Here (Rep21)”

  1. Checking back on my summer calendar I have confirmed that You Are Here is indeed the play in question. Upon reading this review I was more than certain that I must have either suffered some sort of cerebral trauma or at least had mistakenly attended a different performance. This magnificent example of brilliant, tortured writing was only slightly overshadowed by the subtle quiet genius of stage presence. A story of life, albeit a tragic one that is more common than the perception of the general population is comfortable admitting as well as absorbing. If one has lived amongst the fantasy and monotony of a safe shelter as well as been blessed with the belief that this is the norm of society, than this play is not for you, I believe, that like a Gogan or a Van Gogh, if you cannot feel it, you will never get it.

  2. I agree with tina. I saw this performance in July and it was phenomenal. I was moved to tears and laughter more than once. The play is masterfully written and the performances, especially those of the two leads, brought the language to life! This play is very difficult to perform but they made it look effortless. It was as though they were simply speaking to one another as opposed to reciting lines. My only complaint is that Alison and Richard never kissed! But, I suppose that would defeat the purpose of what the play is about.
    This was defiantly one of the better amateur productions I have seen. I only wish it had run longer. I will defiantly be seeing next years Rep 21 shows.

  3. I’ve got to give props to these kids. I saw this production of You Are Here and the one currently playing at Alumnae. And after seeing how poorly this play can be done, I now fully appreciate how talented these kids were! Good Job!

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