Friday, April 25, 2014

Review: (Theatre / Toronto) Cold Comfort

What is it about the Irish, Whiskey, and Child Death? 
by Spencer Malthouse

If you’re going to kill a baby do it definitively. I thoroughly enjoy seeing an Irishman try to come to grips with his family problems over a bottle of Bushmills but when you come to the crux of the issue you must definitively say whether or not the baby died. Anything else just seems like you’re dancing around the issue. Kill the baby. Do it however you like but do it clearly.  

That said, it’s a very neat idea to have your Irishman discussing what went wrong with his life when his interlocutor is the corpse of his Father. The premise and the writing in Owen McCafferty’s Fly on the Wall Theatre are intriguing. McCafferty works humour and subtlety into his script to progress the play and its one actor to the breaking point. This hour long play could have benefitted from some cuts (there is a lot of repetition of nonsense Irish filler and an overuse of the word 'gargle') but overall the writing takes the audience on a heart-wrenching journey.

Kevin Toner, the play’s sole (living) character, is a product of his parents’ neglect and his own failed marriage. He is deeply alcoholic, depressed, and vaguely suicidal. He spends the play drunk and only gets drunker, but his humour and his desire for the world to be a better place keep the play moving. 

David Mackett’s Kevin is a nuanced, likeable rogue. He is also not Irish. His attempts at the accent obscure the meaning of his words and he sounds simply like a Scotchman chewing a tennis ball. He also needs to work on the continuity of his physicality considering the character starts drunk and gets progressively drunker. Despite these flaws Mackett does give a creditable performance. His emotions feel genuine and he never goes over-the-top. 

I really enjoy the idea behind this play. McCafferty has a talent for taking an interesting premise and building a very touching story into it. However, the work has some fundamental flaws that need to be cleaned up. There are strong moments in this piece but they are undermined by the author’s timidity. 

April 24 - May 4

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