The thing about shows like Holy Tranity! – shows so new they don’t even have a website – is that they’re a bit of a crapshoot, even more than a usual Fringe production, and especially when the production is a staged reading. I arrived for a mid-afternoon show to see a large table set with the world’s sparkliest tablecloth, three red binders, and three bottles of water. Even by Fringe standards, this show was low on set.
It wasn’t long though, before I didn’t care at all. The actors came out on stage, introduced themselves, and without a word of further explication dug in to this early-AIDS-era drama, set in some unnamed bar in some unnamed city. I was immediately delighted by the casting choice of Antonio Bavaro as Gracie, the trans woman at the center of both the bar, and the show. Often men cast as trans women are graceless and showy, trying to play “woman-trapped-in-a-man’s-body” to the last row. Bavaro, lissome and tempting, owned the role and delivered a nuanced knockout of a performance, even being mostly trapped behind a giant spangled table.
Co-stars Nicholas Santillo and Cameron Sedgewick, as the naive young newcomer and the jaded older man respectively, were less to write home about but solid in their roles. Santillo came alive substantially toward the end when given some drug-hazed crystal meth scenes, and someone should encourage him to bring more of that energy to his troubled-but-hopeful character earlier in the show. Sedgewick has less to do, and does it quite quietly, standing in for a generation of men who fought AIDS when they were well enough and then succumbed.
There’s plenty here to suggest that a finished production of the Puelo Deir play could be something special. As it is, you’re looking at the bones of a new piece of theatre, just enough to suggest the shape and size of the new creature. This production would to do well to keep the luminous Bavaro, currently carrying a great deal of the show on his slender shoulders. As a staged reading, it certainly succeeds.
Holy Tranity! runs till July 15th at the Robert Gill Theatre, 214 College St, 3rd floor.
Fri, July 8 3:30 PM
Sun, July 10 9:15 PM
Mon, July 11 7:00 PM
Tue, July 12 2:45 PM
Wed, July 13 4:15 PM
Fri, July 15 12:30 PM
Sat, July 16 8:45 PM
– All individual Fringe tickets are $10 ($5 for FringeKids) at the door (cash only).
– Tickets are available online at www.fringetoronto.com, by phone at 416-966-1062, in person at The Randolph Centre for the Arts, 736 Bathurst Street (Advance tickets are $11 – $10+$1 convenience fee)
– Several money-saving passes are available if you plan to see at least 5 shows