Sometimes you have to suffer for your art, and your theatre. Sometimes, folks, you have to make sacrifices. Sometimes…well, sometimes, you just have to grit your teeth, pluck up your courage, and go. To Vanier.
Now hang on, I didn’t mean to scare you off…it gets better! Yes, this latest show I done seen plays on the wrong side of the bridge, but it’s all good, really…obviously it was a location I hadn’t been to yet, tho I probably should have at some point, given that it’s the home base of A.C.T Ottawa, a local theatre school who were putting on the performance in association with Lonsdale Smith Studios. I found out about the show a little late (and promptly ranted childishly, but amusingly, on my Facebook page about that…seriously people, TELL ME EVERYTHING!) , and so only made it out to the Sunday matinee, about halfway thru the run. And, all joking about Vanier aside, the ACT Studio entrance is, to put it mildly, just a little shady looking. Seriously, I’m kinda glad I discovered this place during the DAY. But my newbie fears were soon cast away, and I made my way into the unassuming little theatre, behind the Lorenzo’s on the Palace st. side (shady!), and into a lovely little foyer with a few others who had braved the snow and geography to be there that day. Cozy little joint, and when we got let inside the actual theatre, I forgot all about the wilds of Vanier.
The show, MRS.DALLY HAS A LOVER by William Hanley and directed by ACT head honcho Claudia Jurt, takes place in the titular Mrs.Dally’s living room in the 60’s, and the audience is sitting quite voyeuristically almost inside of it. Set designer Sasha Chichagov succeeds at making one of the most intimate sets I’ve ever been in (side note…Mr.Chichagov would like me to extend my love of the set design to contributors Pamela Masey, Claudia Jurt and Michele Lonsdale as well, and who am I to argue?)…and intimate is a pretty good word for this show. As it begins, and the lights go down, and we start to hear some noises from behind the sofa. Some, shall we say, intimate noises, nudge nudge, wink wink. And the play, my friends, is on.
The show features the thirtysomething Mrs.Dally (Genevieve Sirois), a neglected housewife who has started up an affair with teenage Frankie (Daniel Krantz) while her husband, whom she refers to as ‘the Brute’, is off at work. The audience is set up for a fly-on-the-wall view of one of their daily trysts, occasional bouts of full frontal nudity and all. In the interests of keeping the mystery alive, I won’t tell you whether it’s Frankie or Mrs.Dally who sports the birthday suit. It doesn’t really matter too much, as over the course of the play both characters are stripped bare, one awkward conversation at a time. Mrs.Dally (we never know her first name, tellingly) seems to need Frankie and his boyish charm, but the secrets haunting her from a regret-laden past just won’t let her take anything for granted. And Frankie, a fidgeting, energetic lothario, seems to genuinely want to be what Mrs.Dally needs him to be…but that’s a tall order for a kid just out of high school, who seems to have trouble taking anything too seriously. They clash often, passionate embraces falling in between outbursts and accusations and deep, dark confessions. There’s a lot going on in Mrs.Dally’s living room this day, and illicit hookups are just the tip of the iceberg.
This is a pretty solid play with lots to mull over long after you’ve gone. And the performances from our two fearless leads are dynamite. Genevieve Sirois had already impressed me in the great HOW IT WORKS at the Gladstone (pretty much my fav’rit production of last year), and she steps it up here as the vulnerable and layered Mrs.Dally, sexy, smart and tragic all at once. And it’s very hard to believe that this is Daniel Krantz’ first time acting on stage, as the program indicates…he’s damn good as the endearing Frankie, alternating between youthful exuberance and frustrated need as the moment requires. Ms Jurt has clearly pulled the right people to get the job done here. Which reminds me, I need a shoutout to sound designer Timothy Paul Coderre as well…his subdued soundscape heightened the reality of the show just perfectly (although I think some of the police sirens I heard were just, you know, Vanier).
So hats off to ACT Ottawa, and I’m happy to say my first experience with them was more than worth the trip (and feel free to keep me in the loop the next time you have a show, deal?). MRS DALLY plays for a few more days…you can get the times and prices here, and I think you’d be mighty pleased if you headed on over. Peace, love and soul,
ETA: the show run has just been extended to the 19th, so you’ve got a few more chances to see some hot’n’heavy vanier theatre-stylings.