Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Saved - Factory Theatre

*I feel like some of my reviews lately have been overly critical. Okay, not just lately. Anyway, I now want to attempt to be more constructive in my reviews and highlight areas for change rather than strictly outlining faults and have started with this review*

As I sit in the courtyard waiting for this play to start, I read the director's notes in the program.  He talks about disenfranchised middle class youth in Canada contributing to the G20 and Vancouver riots because they are "repressed by their disconnect to themselves and society". That these youth feel nothing towards our society "except hate and anger".

The play features a group of adolescents who feel disconnected and commit a shocking act of violence. This is the play that Sarah Kane's Blasted should have been and this play pre-dates Blasted by 30 years. The play is fantastically written, not falling into the trap of so many plays about adolescents and overly focusing on their ennui. This play has relate-ability for youth, but also a forward moving plot, humor and character development. I can see why the director chose to stage it.

The production was good but some things can be done to make it better, even now half way through it's run.

1. Change the season. The theatre has no air conditioning and was about 35 degrees the night I saw the show. The cast has been forced into jackets and sweaters and when one character says "its too cold in here" laughter erupts from the audience. Change the season to summer, get the cast out of their sweaters and stop the sweat from dripping off them. The summer of violence rings truer anyway.
2. Pick a time. The play is written and set in 1965 yet the directors notes claim the setting was moved to 1997. You can't have lines like "I'll text you a photo" in 1997 and cell phones the size of credit cards.  Also in 1997 it's unlikely a woman would be trying to fix her stockings with a needle and thread, or that she would be going out to the cinema to see the latest Tarzan picture. Clean this up.
3. Two of the three leads are perfect. The young man who opens the show sounds and acts like Dick Van Dyke in the movie Mary Poppins. He's more likely to host a tea party on the ceiling than start a knife fight. Toughen him up and have him watch Mary Poppins for a lesson in what not to do.
4. Drop the opening scenes.  They're too confusing.  One second he's asking her name, the next second they're on a boat, the next second they've broken up?  It moves too fast and only serves to distance the audience from the material when the play starts. Drop these scenes and start with the break-up.
5. Give the old man an ironing board! He stands there for five minutes in a pivotal scene ironing his shirt on the back of a sofa and it's ridiculous. An ironing board would bring your total props to I think three? Its not too much to ask.

Fantastic source material and moments of brilliance.

"A society that maintains an underclass tolerates a measure of barbarity."—The New York Times, in their review of Saved

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