Infinity is “memorable, compelling drama” on the Tarragon stage in Toronto
Tarragon Theatre and Volcano Theatre’s co-production of Infinity is a stirring philosophical drama that stays mostly grounded in the humanity of its characters — a play about the messiness of careers, relationships, and the troublesome notion of passion. I had high expectations of playwright Hannah Moscovitch, and I’m happy to say that Infinity did not disappoint.
Infinity offers an ambitious mixture of philosophy, physics, and music. For me, a particular highlight of the production was the beautiful series of performances by violinist Andréa Tyniec, who haunts the background of this play through the semitransparent back wall of the set.
The story traces the difficult relationships between musician Carmen Green (Amy Rutherford), physicist Elliot Green (Paul Braunstein), and their daughter Sarah Jean (Vivien Endicott-Douglas). I sometimes found the heartbreak hard to handle; I won’t give the details away, but I heard a woman in the row behind me whisper that this was the saddest play she had ever seen.
Fittingly for a story about relatively abstract themes, Infinity played around with different theatrical techniques. I enjoyed the switching between storylines, the change of pace when Elliot lectures the audience, and especially the movement piece around the halfway point. It was fascinating to watch three people live in fast-forward.
All the actors gave great performances, heightening the strong script. In particular, I thought Carmen and Elliot’s pregnancy argument escalated very gradually and naturally, delivering exposition that didn’t feel like exposition. My friend Sara was especially impressed by actress Vivien Endicott-Douglas’s ability to shift between child and adult.
A few of the characters’ arguments were so dramatic they tested my suspension of disbelief — so much shouting! — and I would have liked to spend more time getting to know Carmen. I wonder whether Elliot’s uncompromising obsession with his work, even at blatantly inappropriate moments, owes something to the unfortunate stereotype of the unemotional scientist. Sara and I both struggled to believe that Elliot could be emotionally ignorant enough to dedicate his work to his mother instead of his wife.
On the whole, however, I found Infinity to be heartfelt and thought-provoking. What I liked most was the messy humanity of the characters: Elliot who feels he has something to prove, Carmen who only wants to meet her husband for lunch, Sarah Jean with her powerful struggle and uncertainty about love. The dynamic between them made for a memorable, compelling drama.
- Infinity is playing until January 29, 2017, at Tarragon Theatre (29 Bridgman Avenue)
- Shows run Tuesday to Saturday at 8 pm, Sundays at 2:30 pm, and select Saturdays at 2:30 pm.
- Ticket prices range from $29-60: General Admission costs $55, Senior 65+ costs $49, Subscriber costs $33, Student costs $29. Rush tickets are also available for $20 cash two hours before the show.
- Tickets can be purchased online or by phone (416-531-1827).
Photo of Paul Braunstein and Amy Rutherford by Cylla von Tiedemann