Burn Baby Burn

So as readers of this blog well know, there really isn’t much of a blog here to read anymore. In fact, why are you reading this..? Okay okay, I’ve been slacking off, devoting my so-called time to pursuing the actings and what not. I wasn’t sure what to do, exactly, with this old webspace of mine, but I’d figured my days of theatrical blogging were kind of behind me.

Then the Citizen gutted its Arts section, and let old Patty Langston out to dry (and hey, Citizen…if this was retribution on my behalf for that ‘not always successfully’ line, you shouldn’t have done it, I was totally gonna get him back on my own!). And then Drumpf got elected as Grand Wizard of the Confederacy, and we’re all basically fucked, forever. And I suddenly felt like I wasn’t doing anywhere near enough. Just in general. Not enough.

Then good guy and Acting Company co-czar John Muggleton gave me a shout out of the blue, offering me a review ticket for his nearly sold out show BURN, enjoying a two-weekend run at the Avalon Studio. I wanted to see the show, I thought that writing a little bit of theatrical pressage might be much needed good vibes, so I jumped at the chance. And here I am, belting out one of those ‘Visitorium’ reviews that used to make me so much more beloved than I ever, ever will be as a performer! Ah, memories. At least the pressure’s off, since this run is already sold out and basically over and…

…what, they’ve added new dates? Shit. Time to remember how to write!

So, BURN. Written and directed by Johnny Muggs himself, and featuring a sweet cast of four performers ranging between well-seasoned to brand spanking new the story centers around Robert (Chris Torti), a former novelist still mourning the mysterious disappearance of his wife, a far more celebrated authour, years earlier. As we begin, Robert’s lifelong friend Paul has just passed away, and his long-estranged daughter Eve (Megan Carty) has asked to meet with Robert and his friends Samira and David (Tahera Mufti and Michael Thompson)to give them…something. They all gather at hiss apartment, musing over what Eve has to tell them, settling in for a pleasant evening with their pleasant new arrival. Until things start to get weird…and disturbing…and downright nasty.

Here are the 2 things that stood out and stuck with me about BURN. One, this is a smart script, that lets the mystery reveals itself cleverly and engagingly. The characters feel real, the tension is dense and palpable, and the unease is well-earned.

The second thing is the cast, and the terrific performances that director Muggleton brings out of his ensemble. I was almost dumbstruck by how naturalistic the whole affair felt, and the sense that I was peering in on a group of old friends whose lives were slowly being turned upside down for reasons they didn’t understand was wonderful, and more than a little unsettling. Chris Torti continues to impress, having clearly blown well past me since we did a few workshops together years ago. Megan Carty is always terrific, and shines as the impossible to pin down Eve. Stage newcomers Thomson and Mufti are rock solid too, supporting Robert’s world while slowly being drawn into Eve’s web.

This is a terrific homegrown slice of mystery and psychological mayhem, and it’s wonderful to see an original local show performing so well. It may also be testament to how much the Acting Company had ingrained itself in the communities, both Ottawa Theatre and the Glebe, and not a moment too soon. As mentioned above, they have just announced new show dates to this sold out run, coming near the end of December (the 28th to 30th, check the Burn website for details). Just make sure the lights are working at home before you check it out…this one may very well leave you with an awesome case of the creeps. Although, considering who just won the election, maybe horror is suddenly rather relative. Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid

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