Two delightfully performed one-act plays, A Man of Two Minds and Lost Refuge took the stage at Toronto’s Tranzac
One act plays can be a good opportunity for playwrights to tell engaging stories on stage without being burdened by the pressure of carrying on with the concept longer than necessary. As such, it was a wise decision on the part of The Bony Fiddle Theatre Group to present Blair Mueller’s two shows, A Man of Two Minds and Lost Refuge, as a double header. Individually, they might have fallen flat – but together, they served as proof of Mueller’s skill as a writer/director, and the theatre group’s versatility as a whole.
Up first was A Man of Two Minds, a modern take on the old “two dates with two separate people at the same time at the same restaurant” bit, with twenty-something Casey in the hot seat. But this time, one of his dates is with Veronica (who he’s been dating for a year partially at the behest of his nagging step-mother, played by Shobha Hatte), and the other is with (gasp!) a man named Jared.
As you might expect, Casey (portrayed with awkward honesty by Ben Clifford) expends a lot of energy going back and forth between the two tables, trying to keep both Veronica (Nathalie Babis) and Jared (Andrew Burke) happy and unaware of the other’s existence.
I couldn’t help but feel for both of them – Veronica’s been going out with this guy for a year, and he’s still pulling shenanigans like this? And Jared comes into this situation expecting to have a pleasant first date with a cute guy he met on the street, but ends up caught up in this whirlwind of lies and sexual confusion. Babis and Burke both approached their roles with notable authenticity, reacting quite believably to the unfortunate circumstances into which their characters had been put.
Despite being the cause of the whole mess, Casey’s monologues served to make the audience sympathize with him as he navigates the complicated situation. They also provided the show with its food-for-thought – it encourages consideration of the fluidity of sexual preference, and the different pressures that come into play when two people decide to date.
The other play, Lost Refuge, took a radically different direction, featuring a father and his estranged daughter as they try to survive the zombie apocalypse in a small wooden shack. Richard (played with force and fury by Reece Presley) does everything he can to protect Rebecca (brought to life with youthful energy by Samantha Levine), while attempting to heal the wounds caused by his years-long absence, as well as the zombie hoards.
In Lost Refuge, as in A Man of Two Minds, it was easy to care about the characters portrayed, and about their eventual fates – a not small task for a playwright to achieve in just a few short minutes of a one-act play. At times, characters sounded and behaved as if they were characters, rather than actual people. But for the most part, everything I saw on stage rang true. Mueller has some truly interesting ideas for shows, and The Bony Theatre Group seems to be able and willing to explore these creative concepts on stage. I’m interested to see what they put on next.
- A Man of Two Minds and Lost Refuge played September 11-13 at Tranzac (292 Brunswick Avenue)
- Showtimes: Thursday at 6:00pm, Friday at 8:00pm, and Saturday at 2:30pm and 8:00pm.
- Tickets: $25-$40
Photo of Nathalie Babis, Ben Clifford and Shobha Hatte provided by the company.