A little bit of mist hangs over the stage at the opening of this trio of monologues around the theme of our animal natures, but it’s not a bit foggy, nor cliché either, for which I am grateful (though not surprised, in the hands of Daniel MacIvor). Ultimately, this show hangs together nicely and works, pretty much from beginning to end.
Centered around three main characters, I, Animal, part of the 2012 SummerWorks Performance Festival, is loosely collected around the idea of people who, in some way that’s both conscious and subconscious, are strongly identified with a particular animal. It feels slightly as though each of them is telling a story MacIvor has been wanting to tell but couldn’t make work in a different kind of play, like maybe these are a few orphans from his Big Book of Good Ideas, but they’re more than good enough ideas. They also share a theme of an outsider’s experience, which probably makes me like them even more.
The three characters (Antonio Cayonne as The Guy In Scrubs, Stewart Legere as The Boy In Hoodie, and Kathryn McLellan as Woman in Prada) are all complex, believable and well-played. Very well-played. There’s a lot of language in this piece, and it takes a certain kind of actor to stand more or less stock still for half-an-hour, armed with maybe a flashlight or a dog’s leash or a mobile telephone, and spin out the complexity of the moment in which we meet them and all the moments that brought them there.
They do all the jumping in time with voice and inflection, mildly assisted by a lighting cue, and if it doesn’t seem impressive it’s because it’s so skillfully handled by all three. Ask a random friend with no particular affinity for, or training in, storytelling to explain how some complex situation came to a head sometime, and then you’ll appreciate these actors even more.
All three had great moments, especially when discussing issues of truth, honesty, facts, and lies. I get a sense that director Richie Wilcox feels some kind of emotional attachment to that box of ideas and pushed the actors to give them their full due. There’s plenty in the text to support them in it, so the result caused several of those quick, satisfied theatre-smiles, the smile that means “yes, just right.”
Ultimately, in this production, that’s the smile I came away with – glad for the show, for the actors with such good parts to play, glad for good politics around race and gender, glad for sexy and complex roles for women in their sixties, and glad – very glad – MacIvor found homes for these characters in this piece.
- I, Animal plays at Factory Theatre
- Remaining performances are Tue Aug 14, 2012 07:30 PM , Fri Aug 17, 2012, and Sun Aug 19, 2012 12:00 PM
- All individual SummerWorks tickets are $15 at the door (cash only). Tickets are available online at ticketwise.ca (Advance tickets are $15 + service fee)
- Several money-saving passes are available if you plan to see at least 3 shows.