An intimate night of theatre at Unit 102 in Toronto
Once riding on the streetcar, I overheard two people.
“I like to be their friend,” said one to the other, “because I’m sensitive to their problems. But I usually sleep with them. Which is why I think I’m sensitive to them.” A pause. “But I really am nice,” the one insisted.
When I later rose to get off at my stop, I turned to get a look at the two talking. They were no more than 22 or 23-years old.
Though maybe a bit young to be characters in a John Patrick Shanley play, and definitely not dressed to be – each was in skinny pants, wearing leather jackets almost as tight – the self-analysis was quintessential Shanley.
Women Of Manhattan follows the lives of three friends in New York City for a couple of days. One, Billie, played by Lauren Toffan, is married. Another, Judy, played by Alanna Stone, is a sexually frustrated – to use a constantly repeated term –“fag hag.” And the third, Rhonda Louise, played by Esther Vallins, is recently out of a relationship.
Much like that fella on the streetcar, aware of his own behavior and yet unsure of himself, these women are amusingly critical of who they are – the phrase “proud asshole” comes up a few times – and nearly desperate for a change.
Alanna Stone playing Judy was particularly good I thought, in a scene with Giovanni Spina as Duke, her character’s blind date.
The other work, Welcome To The Moon is almost quaint by comparison. It features two men – Stephen and Ronnie, played by Nick May and Jordan Mechano, respectively – confronting and, in the process, completely terrified by what they want most.
Both plays offer material that I found deeply relatable. The monologues in Women in Manhattan on the nature of loneliness, as for each it seems to be different in meaning, had me leaning forward. And while I had seen Welcome To The Moon a couple times before, the revival was nicely done. Its dark humor – one character’s pathetic attempts to commit suicide, for example – seem to always makes me smile.
A Night of Shanley is emotionally rich and thoughtful, in a wonderfully intimate space. I’d strongly recommend going before it closes at the end of this week.
- A Night Of Shanley is playing at Unit 102 (376 Dufferin) until February 16th
- Show begins at 8:00 PM
- Tickets are $20 for general admission; $15 for students. And Pay-What-You-Can on Tuesday
- For more info, please see shanley.brownpapertickets.com