Friday, January 18, 2013

Review: (Montreal) Pervers

(photo credit: Rolline Laporte)

One Tight Knot
A dense entanglement of issues leaves us jangling.
by Nanette Soucy

With all the ambition, work ethic and foresight of a film grad who lives in his mom’s basement, young Gethin decides to take the world of cinema by storm by tackling an edgy subject: the pedophile on the block, and the neighbourhood’s reaction to his presence. He’s devised some sort of perverted Rosenhan experiment, wherein he twists the rubber arm of his kid sister Sarah into spreading vicious rumours about him through school.

Looking like a mid 1990’s Grunge album cover, (set by Patricia Ruel) Théatre de la Manufacture’s Pervers could almost be mistaken at a glance for a never released After-School Special, except for the abundantly unclear moral of the story or key lesson at the end. Stacey Gregg has attempted to weave together so many, albeit clearly intersecting, issues; bullying, sexting, abuse, creepy uncles, absent fathers, stigma, gossip, teenage sex, homosexuality, pedophilia, rape culture, etc. that she tangles a knot so tight by the end that we can’t undo it or tell where the individual threads start or finish. The character of the interrogator (Marie-Hélène Thibault) whom we meet once the rumours about Gethin really hit the fan, deconstructs the history and the context of his little stunt in such a way as to leave us feeling as gut-wrung as the people she’s interviewing. We’re left in a twisted state of not knowing what’s real and what Gethin’s constructed. We feel sympathy with predators and want to blame and punish the innocent, or worse, not clearly knowing which is which.

Stéphanie Labbe’s Sarah was properly whiny and annoying, and in stereotypical 16 year old fashion leaves an adult audience either tut-tutting at or wanting to smack upside the head the mythical Kids These Days and not feeling much sympathy for her particular struggle, despite a few pointed moments under interrogation. Conversely, Sarah Laurendeau’s single appearance on stage in the role of Layla, an ex-girlfriend of Gethin’s best friend Nick, reminds us that bullying, sexting and depression are real things that happen to real girls. The contrast uncomfortably reinforces all those notions of good girls and bad girls and that maybe some girls deserve what they get, thus contributing to the troublesome mass of truths, half-truths, lies, caricatures and stereotypes presented with cutting swipes of humour to bring necessary levity to the intensity of it all.

Pervers runs to February 23

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