Sunday, September 8, 2013

Review: (Vancouver) Model Wanted (Fringe)

When acting wins out...
by David C. Jones

This drama is inspired by a true murder story in New Brunswick. Jesse LaVercombe plays Ross and recovering drug addict high school kid who is raised by a single mother (Grace Fitzpatrick) struggling to make ends meet. She takes in a lesbian boarder named Joy (“to the world” quips Ross) played by Kayla Deorkson. Ross has been in trouble for severely beating his former best friend and we find out he is tortured not only with life and school but also questions of his sexuality.  Adrian Shepherd-Gawinksi plays a cocky young photographer whose ad for a non-professional model lands Ross in his apartment.

The play starts with a half naked Ross holding bloody scissors over the body of the photographer, and then it hops back and forth through time.  There is no surprise where it is going to end but what grabs you is the performances under director (and writer) Step Taylor.  All of the actors are riveting and there is a raw sexuality and cast chemistry coursing through the play. Mr. LaVercombe and Ms. Fitzpatrick are particularly spontaneous and layered in equal parts pain and hope. Mr. LaVercombe is masterful at switching from stoned and drunk filled with lusty hate to sullen yet concerned teenager trying to connect to distracted adults.

The end moments err on the side of sensationalism rather than satisfying exploration of the play's themes but it’s the acting that makes this a show worth catching.

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