Undercurrents 2014 – A QUIET SIP OF COFFEE

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Another day, another crack at a new UNDERCURRENTS show at the GCTC studio.  The little Festival that could continues to put the Fun in February (trust me, there’s a fun in there, you just have to squint a bit) with the latest show to premiere in the lineup.

The brainchild of AnimalParts theatre, a joint Toronto/New York collective, A QUIET SIP OF COFFEE (or THIS IS NOT THE PLAY WE’VE WRITTEN) stars Anthony Johnston and Nathan Schwartz as themselves, recounting a bizarre, hilarious, kind of scary and amazing true story that began in 2004.  The duo, then-recent grads of Vancouver’s Studio 58 Conservatory, had themselves a goofy idea…they wrote a letter to a notorious ‘gay reform’ camp, asking for money to fund a new theatre project.  Just as a joke, of course, so imagine their surprise when the camp’s leader not only invites them in for a chat, but asks them to participate in 2 weeks worth of their therapy as part of the deal.  Anthony and Nathan, gay and straight best friends in real life, agree, adopting fake names and diving in headlong.  What happens is decidedly more than they bargained for.

Nathan Schwartz and Anthony Johnston in A QUIET SIP OF COFFEE.
Nathan Schwartz and Anthony Johnston in A QUIET SIP OF COFFEE.

Shows like COFFEE are why I love Undercurrents…where else besides Fringe would I get easy exposure to this kind of rule-breaking original Canadian theatre creation?  This was a joy of a show from beginning to end, even (or maybe especially) the bits of the play-within-a-play NEVER CRY WOLFMAN, the completely fake production they invented way back in ‘04 to get their feet in the camp’s doors.  But amid the moments of hilarity (which are many, many indeed) come some moments of unsettling honesty and pain, and thankfully Nathan and Anthony have more than enough talent and charm to pull off both extremes with style.  This is a perfect little gem of a show, laugh-til-you-cry funny and heartbreaking all at the same time.  Ottawa is lucky to be hosting these two talented cats, and I was lucky to get to see this great show (not to mention hanging out with the lads at the Carleton Tavern afterwards).  Put this one on your schedule, folks, it’s a can’t miss.  Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid, the Visitor (and Winston)

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