And here I thought it was gonna be a quiet week. I’d managed to finally see the Fools show, and had a few days to kill before Odyssey kicked into gear, and figgered it would mostly be spent watching old BEWITCHED episodes, and just generally waiting to die.
Then I got a notice from the lady miss Claudia Jurt, artistic director from ACT studios in Ottawa, that they had a new show hitting their Vanier studio space (where I caught the swell MRS.DALLY HAS A LOVER back in January) starting that very day. And me with nothing to do (no offense, Mrs.Stephens)! I called up my best galpal, aka FamousActressNancyKenny, just back in town from Roller Derby success at Zoofest in Montreal (read all about it!), who brought me out for my very first Sushi dinner ever (yum) before heading over to the show.
The show, by the by, was John Patrick Shanley’s THE DREAMER EXAMINES HIS PILLOW, directed by Michele Lonsdale Smith, and a goodly crowd had turned up for opening night. Billed as a ‘heterosexual homily’, the story follows the tumultuous romance between Tommy (TJ Riley) and Donna (Tattiawna Jones), who are on the outs at the moment. Neither seem to be dealing with the split very well…Tommy less so, as he appears to have been hooking up in the meantime with Donna’s much-too-young sister Mona for reasons even he seems unable to properly explain. Tommy’s distracted selfishness drives pragmatic Donna up a wall, and into the reluctant company of her reclusive widowed Father (William MacDonald), who’d rather wallow in drink than confront the memories Donna throws in his face.
The show very handily blends its squalid New York setting with a ferocious sensuality bolstered by a Djembe drum score performed throughout by Daniel Krantz (from MRS.DALLY) and some seriously impressive work from our actors. TJ Riley as Tommy makes for a marvelously philosophical slacker, living in a dump and eyeing his terrible self-portrait in a curious effort to find answers about himself. William MacDonald as Donna’s dad is an imposing presence indeed, booming out the wisdom of a life filled with regrets. Tho it’s Tattiawna Jones’ Donna who has to bring the two men in her life, and the various strands of this story, together, and she does a helluva job with it. A force to be reckoned with on the intimate ACT stage, she prowls and dances and belts out Shanley’s heavy text, loaded with almost too much information on the interactions between men and women. Her confrontations with Tommy and her Dad are exceptional, intense scenes…Hell, the whole play is a seriously intense affair, and gave a dope like me much food for thought about life and love and all that jazz. Not that Tommy and Dad are the best role models, mind you, but I think this show has lots to say if you’re willing to listen…And you’ll be well rewarded if you do. The show runs until this Saturday at the ACT studio, then moves on to a short run in Toronto next month. Catch it if you can! Peace, love and soul,
Kevin Reid, the Visitor (and Winston)