by Jenna Rocca
By Jenna Rocca
Rep 21 is the culmination of the work of final year students of the Canadore College Theatre Arts program, a production series that was this year staged at Theatre Passe Muraille.
One of the season’s productions was Daniel MacIvor’s You Are Here, a sentimental and miserable tale of a young woman who seems to have no motivations, specific ambitions, or desires. It inevitably ends messily and left this reviewer wondering why she should really care about the character, when it seemed from the outset that she never really cared about herself.
Madelaine Redican plays Alison, the anti-heroine who tells her own story through monologue, whine, and vignettes. Personally, I wasn’t a fan of the tone of MacIvor’s piece, it felt overly stilted and repetitive, perhaps to be more naturalistic sounding. Despite that, Redicon makes an attempt to make it all seem charming and sincere, pounding her eyebrows against her forehead with determined earnestness.
Joshua Bainbridge, as her Kevin Smith-like best-friend-who-is-obviously-the-love-of-her-life-but-no-one-seems-to-care gives a pretty dull character some charm. He’s really the only thing that seems to ever cheer Alison up. But this is all in vain when he suddenly becomes a suicidal drug-addict with no forewarning, aside from the earlier establishment that he is addiction-prone. Alison’s character, however neurotic, doesn’t seem to have a pre-existing tendency to become an addict, but their narratives each reach the same tragic conclusions.
There is a lot of pretty late-nineties quasi-spiritualism through which Alison tries to make sense of her life by referring to the “You Are Here” sticker on mall maps, using banal, almost childlike language. She speaks with very deliberate repetition and trips in MacIvor’s writing. This style, common to many modern playwrights, such as Harold Pinter, attempts to mimic the natural course of speaking. To me it actually sounds more stiff: “I knew I wanted to. I knew I wanted to blah, blah, blah. I wanted to,” for example.
The students of Canadore College did what they could with what felt like lifeless and draining material and pretty straight directing by an instructor. In fact, the students’ enthusiasm was quite penetrable.
This production ran in July of 2010, more information can be found on the Rep 21 website. It will be interesting to see what they bring us in the summer of 2011.