Reviews by Terry Gaisin
Patrick Hamilton’s drama “ROPE” either refers to ‘”Give em’ enough rope…etc” or perhaps to the fact that Leopold & Loeb both held on to ends of the cord used to throttle Bobby Franks in the so-called ‘crime of the Century’ thrill murder; the true-life case on which Hamilton’s plot is based. Like the infamous L & L, his protagonists (antagonists?) are highly intelligent; considered themselves Nietzschean ‘Ubermenschen’ (supermen) and thus sociologically non-responsible, and too bright to ever be caught.
Director Jani Lauzon utilizes stage lighting as a dramatic vehicle actually have an opening scene in almost total darkness. So, both mood and plot are sinister. Photo courtesy of Emily Cooper (Shaw)
The deceased is hidden in a chest in the young men’s shared apartment. Utilizing a library inheritance, the chest then becomes a table on which their acquaintances; including the victim’s father eat and drink. The actual killer is the alpha dog ‘Wyndham Brandon’ and Kelly Wong reflects all his character’s arrogance and disdain with not only facial expressions, but also stance and dialogue pauses. His co-conspirator ‘Charles Granillo’ is portrayed by Travis Seetoo and he’s more of the omega rather than beta dog in the duo’s hierarchy.
Among the guests, Peter Millard is the father who brings an almost non-verbal Patty Jamieson as his sister. In a vital role of ‘straight man’; Alexis Gordon milks every comment and even a pathetic suitor’s efforts, for all she can. Big difference from seeing them as denizens of Brigadoon; but that’s the magic of repertory!
The last visitor is Rupert Cadell whose name has become eponymous for a ‘Columbo’ character who blows away all perfect plans or artifices. This is a novel (to us) Michael Therriault and by design, intention and necessity; he and his character own the play. Outwitting, out maneuvering and finally provoking the dastards using (hoisting) his cane sword as a metaphoric petard. The difficulty of the role; it’s substance and modality changes coupled with a plethora of monologue make this potentially either a screw-up or a tour de force. With Therriault’s thespian talent and Lauzon’s direction, ROPE is a spell binder…even with a superfluity of ‘Rather’s’ by the entire company. Kind of like today’s kids and their ‘Like’!
ROPE has its slow-paced moments, and the subject and execution (pun intended) are dark and foreboding, but given the acting level and detailed direction, ROPE will rope you in! It’s at the Royal George Theatre until October12th.
The Russian Play”, -brief but affecting
A brief 45-minute Canadian play by Hannah Moscovitch is an allegorical tale of female struggles presented against the backdrop of Яussia post-Revolution and the early Stalin era. Four characters, ‘Sonya’, a struggling hustler; her lover ‘Piotr’ who digs graves; lower, but middle class scion – ‘Kostya’, and a mute violinist make up the cast. Sonya is Gabriella Sundar Singh and she’s also the elocutor of the on-stage changing situation; the political ramifications, and her definitions of love. Piotr is Peter Fernandes and his size intimidates but his affection fluctuates from loving to cruelty. On his departure Sonya takes up with Mike Nadajewski whose ‘Kostya’ represents every male who take advantage of position or a financial superiority. Marie Mahabal is the violinist. She falls for the gravedigger; loses him; re-finds him and then becomes a subject for his trade. Curtain.
Short, powerful and impacting,. Dasvedanya!