By George Perry
The performance comes in at just under an hour. I recently commented to my friend Sam that sometimes these one hour plays seem like a week in hell, other times they seem like a five-minute coffee break cut short. This one felt like ten minutes.
Grammy plays three or four characters. She’s a young University student, a cab driver, and two or three others that aren’t really clear. She runs across the stage, she drives a cab and she pimps perfume samples. She’s plays them all well. However, the connection between them is never really made clear. I expected to be engaged by a cab driver with interesting and diverse stories.
It is a one-act play, but it really came across as two acts. In the first, I was really impressed with the simple yet effective effects. Grammy snaps her fingers and BAM! The sound changes and she switched into another of the three or so characters she plays. Linn Farley and Mike Conley do great work on light and sound.
During the first half, I was really distracted by the giggling audience. The nervous reaction really took away from my appreciation of Grammy’s work, and I think it put a glass ceiling on her performance, hindering it. Fortunately we all grew up about halfway through. The audience became more respectful, and Grammy blossomed.
Her performance was exceptional in the second half. We were engaged. The universality of superficiality was made clear. Name-brands apparently mean as much in Tehran as they do in Toronto. Toronto was portrayed as a second tier name brand too.
Grammy’s portrayal of a potential agent came across as unfortunate at best, anti-Semitic at worst. I felt there to be an over-use of F-bombs during this scene. If the agent didn’t offer to represent Grammy, he’s a simple fool, not an evil Jew. I was also troubled by her resorting to Pollack jokes.
If you are trying to gain sympathy from a person like me who resembles “The Man,” you’re not going to do it with Pollack jokes. My wife is Lithuanian, and she was tormented many times by cruel children for being a “Rouskie.” That being said, Grammy is welcome to come over anytime Gramma Katie serves up Pierogies. We’re tolerant. We’re also Canadian, thoroughly Canadian.
Overall, I thought it came across like an audition. Grammy becomes three or four characters who aren’t really connected. She does play them all really well though.
I didn’t learn anything about Iran as a result of seeing this production. From the promotional material on the piece, one would have expected more insight as to why Iranian engineers prefer driving cabs in Toronto, rather than pursuing their trade in Tehran.
I suppose I was meant to learn this from the final scene. It was interpretive dance. I don’t think it tied anything together, and found it to be just more excellent auditioning.
It is a damn fine audition, as Grammy has incredible talent and charisma as a performer. It will be interesting to see how she grows as a writer.
-Mahmoud played at the Tarragon Theatre Extra Space in March.
Photo of Tara Grammy