Thursday, June 20, 2013

Review: (Montreal) Chairs - A Parable (Fringe)

If Sammy Met Dave
by Sarah Segal-Lazar
In a world where three men spend their lives sitting on the ground, one man will dare to stand up. Welcome to CHAIRS: A Parable. 
The play starts with three filthy and sullen men sitting on the floor. Behind them, a simple yet stunning set, made up of debris. As the men sit and stare at the wall, we understand quickly that they have never strayed from this place, apart from gathering food. The play is reminiscent of Beckett. If Vladimir and Estragon had had a third companion while waiting for Godot, things might have ended up differently; power dynamics might have shifted. With three, someone is always the odd-man out.
At the top of the show, it’s not clear to us what the echelon is. It seems that the man seated in the centre of the stage is in charge, convincing the other two to turn around and face the other wall for a change of scenery. But when his companions opt to turn back to their original wall, the centre man seems to be more of a failed leader than the alpha of the group. That all changes when, fed up with the monotony of sitting in the same place day in, day out, he decides to stand. The effects are revolutionary. Upon rising to a new height, literally, the centre man, played shrewdly by David Sklar, clearly establishes himself as the leader of the pack. As the play progresses, we watch Sklar’s friends-turned-labourers struggle to determine their own hierarchy. Brandon Roy, who plays the part of the beta with a delicate balance of compassion and ambition, claims the spot as Sklar’s right-hand man and joins him in the upper ranks.  
As the title of the play promises, there are chairs. They are a radical invention which change everything for these three men who, for so long, lived in equality. A word about these chairs: they are some of the most brilliant and beautiful pieces of set design that I’ve seen. As the alpha and beta sit on their titularly size-appropriate thrones, the third man, poignantly portrayed by Paul Naiman, breaks the audience’s heart as the deceived and manipulated omega.
Filled with absurdity, laughs, and the reminder that we’re all doomed, Sebastien Archibald’s hilarious and heartbreaking play is like the lovechild of Samuel Beckett and David Mamet. Masterfully directed by Theatre Bazooka’s Artistic Director Jen Quinn, CHAIRS is one of the best shows I’ve seen at the Fringe this year. Don’t miss it. 

1 comment:

  1. So well written,and I so agree with all you wrote. This is a play not to be missed.


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