Love and Human Remains is dark, scandalous, and scintillating, playing at Unit 102 Theatre in Toronto
Dark, dense and more delicious than a 7-layer black forest cake, Love & Human Remains is now onstage at Unit 102 Theatre in Toronto. An amazing collective of artists known as Witchboy Theatre came together to mount this acclaimed play. Written by Canadian Brad Fraser, Love & Human Remains was named one of the top 10 plays of the year by TIME magazine when it debuted in 1989. Missing this particular production would be like missing a weekend at the cottage after a 10-month long Edmonton winter.
The play includes 7 complex characters, all of them interesting people that I could relate to one level or another. They all interweave together in one way or another, and so do the genres that Brad Fraser incorporated in writing the play. Sitcom, horror and thriller are some of the obvious ones. Imagine film noir mixed with 70’s TV shows, Keith Richard’s substance intake and a serial killer. It makes for one helluva gumbo, or maybe one nasty poutine.
The two main characters are David (Christopher Hayes) and Candy (Clara Altima). They share an apartment and used to be lovers. David is a failed Canadian actor, living back home after trying his luck in Los Angeles. He’s now a waiter and turns tricks in parks to make ends meet or get kicks or both.
Hayes has tonnes of charisma and did a great job of playing David. He reminded me of several stereotypical gay men I’ve known. Quick quips on the surface and prancing around like a peacock, one thinks “there’s got to be something more to this man”. And there is. He frequents a sex worker, befriends a serial killer and has designs for a confused boy half his age. He snorts heroin as well.
Hey, I didn’t write Love & Human Remains! Don’t blame me for perpetrating nasty clichés!
Candy is just trying to make a living, and probably the most “normal” of the characters. She’s struggling professionally and personally, but works like crazy to make herself better. She’s addicted to working out, at least until she meets Jerri (Breanna Dillon).
Jerri is a maniac who refuses to let a one night stand be just that. After her seduction/conquest of Candy, Jerri calls Candy relentlessly. Dillon makes the character attractive at first but soon moves Jerri into Fatal Attraction territory. Again, I was reminded of people I know in real life.
Through all this, almost tangling the web herself is the sex worker who can read minds, Benita (Sarah Booth). Booth is incredible and steals a few scenes, even though I thought her singing sounded like nails on a chalkboard. Maybe her songs were supposed to be that abrasive and maybe David should have known better. Who knows?
Meanwhile, Bernie (Mark Paci) shows up almost nightly at David and Candy’s apartment. More often than not he shows up bathed in blood. Not sweat, blood. He’s Larry, the womanizing used-car salesman from Three’s Company, except he has death on his breath instead of Singapore Slings.
Overall I loved Love & Human Remains. It is what I look for in a play: great writing, a plot that is challenging yet credible, great acting and mounted by people with a passion for theatre. If you want to sink your teeth into something sexy and tasty, this is a play for you. If you want to be blown away by special effects, stay on Yonge Street.
Just a reminder for when you are going: The TTC is a bigger mess than usual. Getting to Queen and Dufferin will likely involve a detour or two along your route to and from Unit 102. Don’t let that deter you from seeing this fine group of actors staging what many consider a legendary Canadian play. You might get all “Bernie” if you miss it!
• Love & Human Remains is playing at Unit 102 Theatre (376 Dufferin) until June7
• Shows run Tuesday to Saturday at 8pm
• Tickets are $20.00 and available at the door or online.
Photo provided by the company