My reactions to Tomasso’s Party, playing as part of the Next Stage Theatre Festival, are conflicted. And I feel that’s a very good thing.
It‘s an absurdist piece, which I like. Yet the genre can come with some pitfalls, such as unlikable characters who repeat themselves a lot. Hugo, played by Simon Bracken, is maddening for most of the show. He goes on and on about his crazy neuroses saying the same thing over and over, much of this in a very aggressive tone. This grated on my nerves. Yet that tension led to hilarity every time Madeleine, played by Leah Doz, told him to “shut up”.
I’m also conflicted about the values the play seems to manifest, being very devout to the cause of sex positivity. Yet, to be a sex positivity activist means you have to address and acknowledge the sex-negative trends that are common in the traditional capital-R Relationship, and the play certainly doesn’t tout these sex-negative aspects as beneficial or good in any way.
I may want to see more representations of happy healthy female sexuality, but that’s because I want role models so people don’t fall into the same twisted games that Hugo and Madeleine play out. Not every play can have hope. This one certainly doesn’t.
Simon Bracken has some acting chops on him, but special kudos have to go to Leah Doz for giving an amazing performance with just her back, bum and one arm. That’s all you can see of her the entire performance, yet she is compelling. Of course, by the time Madelaine “woke up” and started speaking I was so sick of Hugo’s diatribe that anything she said was sweet relief. In fact, Hugo is such an insufferable character that it makes Madeleine’s manipulative behaviour understandable.
These characters are terrible people, drawn in absurdist extreme, which highlights the fact that, on a more subtle level, these sorts of insecurities and duplicities so exist in the real world, in the people we know – perhaps even in the people we are.
– All Next Stage Theatre Festival performances are being held at Factory Theatre (125 Bathurst)
– Tickets for all shows are $15 for Evening Performances (7:00 and after start time), $12 for Afternoon Performances (6:59 or before start time) and $10 for Ante-chamber performances
– Showtimes for Tomasso’s Party are:
JAN 4 / 9:30
JAN 5 / 7:15
JAN 6 / 5:00
JAN 7 / 3:00
JAN 8 / 5:30
JAN 11 / 8:45
JAN 13 / 9:30
JAN 14 / 3:00
JAN 15 / 7:15