How do you overcome a tragic loss? In Ampex Entertainment’s production of The Stain, written and directed by Andrew Domingues Frade and appearing in the Toronto Fringe Festival, a woman forges a relationship with her son’s murderer in order to come to terms with his death.
The play takes place over the span of ten years, between the murderer’s incarceration and release. Mary (Marta Legrady) and her husband Paul (Peter Higginson) struggle to deal with the loss of their son, and their marriage eventually dissolves. When the murderer, Jason (Sean Kaufmann), is released from prison on parole, Mary invites him into her home, asking only to be able to know more about him.
By including scenes of Jason in prison, and reflective monologues about his past, the play allows the audience to develop their own perspective on the character. Domingues Frade’s writing humanizes Jason, though his personal transformation under Mary’s care feels sudden and almost too easy to me.
As the director, Domingues Frade has created some moments of evocative staging. Scenes such as one where Jason hands out flyers while actors in coats move in and out of his spotlight to create the illusion of a busy street stands out, but otherwise the play consists primarily of basic naturalistic staging.
At ninety minutes The Stain is on the longer side for Fringe. I feel as the intensity of the action increases, the intensity of the production doesn’t seem to keep up, with climactic scenes feeling the same as the introductory ones.
Domingues Frade is exploring some complex ideas in this play, and Ampex Entertainment’s production is certainly thought-provoking. The play never loses sight of its thematic focus, summed up in Paul’s final monologue in which he declares that despite his hatred for Jason, “he’s a person”. By challenging the limits of forgiveness The Stain asks us to examine our own definitions of justice.
–The Stain is playing at Venue 9 – Robert Gill Theatre (214 College Street) until July 14, 2012
-Showtimes are: July 5 8:15pm, July 6 5:15 pm, July 4:30pm, July 8 12:30 pm, July 10 2:45 pm, July 13 1:45 pm, July 14 9:15 pm
-All individual Fringe tickets are $10 at the door (cash only).
-Tickets are also available online at www.fringetoronto.com, by phone at 416-966-1062, or in person at The Randolph Centre for the Arts, 736 Bathurst Street (Advance tickets are $11 – $9+$2 service charge)
–Value packs are available if you plan to see at least 5 shows