I have to confess that Hume Baugh wrote and performed in one of my favourite pieces of theatre, The Girl in the Picture Tries to Hang up the Phone. I loved that show, so my expectations going into another one of Hume’s plays were very high and although Crush definitely has a lot of potential, it didn’t completely come together for me.
Hume’s writing is strong; he has clearly defined three characters in Sandra, Ronny and Martin. Sandra and Ronny are best friends who live in a trailer park, both lonely, both drinkers and both dreamers. Along comes Martin a dark, secretive man who draws them both to him with devastating results. Or at least it should be devastating but I didn’t find it to be.
For me, the problem was I found it very hard to care about these characters. Maybe that shouldn’t matter but I find it difficult to engage if I am not rooting for someone. It is not to say that these characters weren’t real and maybe they had reasons for living their lives this way, I just never felt connected to any of them.
The set and staging were very interesting. The stage was set in the round with the bare bones of a wooden structure that suggests the trailer that Sandra lives in. Towards the end the actors began to remove pieces of the set and I thought they were going to dismantle the whole thing, but it never got to that stage so I was left wondering why they did it at all.
It is hard to stage a show in the round and to their credit it is handled pretty well but I still always feel like I am missing out on something when a show is set this way. But it did create an intimacy between us and them which was important for this piece. The lighting and sound were also spot on and evoked eeriness.
The actors were all strong, my theatre date really liked Courtney Lyons; I preferred Ryan and Julian and their scenes together were the highlight for me. This is where I really began to feel like the play was getting somewhere. Interesting dialogue was being spoken and I wanted to know more and more about Martin as they revealed their more emotional sides.
I do wonder why they strived so much for realism throughout the piece and then decided not to show any (spoiler alert) blood. It seemed, despite Ryan Kelly’s excellent acting, to fall just slightly short of the dramatic climax it could have been.
My date and I talked a lot about the show after it was over which is a good sign and I would recommend people see it. There is a lot of talent in this room but I still wanted something more. But as they always say, it’s better to leave your audience wanting more. So maybe that’s not such a bad thing.
– Crush is playing at Factory Studio Theatre (125 Bathurst St Theatre) until December 11, 2011
– Shows run Tuesday to Saturday at 8pm and Sundays at 2.30pm
– Tickets are $20 ($15 Student/Senior) PWYC Tue/Sun, School Group Rates available
– Tickets are available by calling the Factory Theatre Box Office at 416 504 9971, online or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org ,or at the door
Photo of Courtney Lyons, Julian DeZotti and Ryan Kelly by Robert Harding