Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Middle Place - Canadian Stage, Berkeley

This fast-paced 70 minute docu-play is comprised of excerpts of interviews with homeless youth at a shelter in Etobicoke. It is presented in the style of The Laramie Project with rapid fire dialogue from a variety of characters portrayed by four different actors.
No one is going to say this play is bad, but at the same time it does miss it's mark. The play starts with dialogue from shelter workers who relay the stories of some of the youth involved and how they lack very basic life skills, such as the ability to say the alphabet up to the letter G. They also relay their struggles with the youth's sense of entitlement. How they expect to get hired at every job interview, and it seems to me the frustration that what is so easy for everyone else is so hard for them.
I'm a bit of a Scrooge with this topic, as I've been there, I've lived on my own since I was 16, so the topics discussed aren't foreign, and I watched the play with a bit of wondering what I'd tell my former self.
I thought Kevin Walker's performance was the best, that he was best able to convey unique character's personalities. That being said I don't feel the script did the actor's any favors by having such jarring quick cuts ALL the time to the point of having the actors talk over each other.
The actors come out barefoot and perform on a white spotlight, giving more the idea of an acting class workshop than a youth hostel, and this goes back to the reason I said the play ultimately doesn't work.  No one is walking out of that theatre with a better understanding of homeless youth. And without that, why are we even there?

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