At the Streetcar Crowsnest Scotiabank Community Studio, 345 Carlaw Ave., Toronto. Ont.
Written at directed by Anton Piatigorsky
Set and costumes by Shannon Lea Doyle
Composer and sound designed by Richard Feren
Lighting by Kaileigh Krysztofiak
Cast: Kyle Gatehouse
Breath In Between is a play about relationships that are truly tested. The production is interesting.
The Story. I defer to the press release when I’m not sure what a play is about: Breath In Between is “A surreal love story about Roger, the murder of two willing victims who respond to his ad on a website, and Amy, a young woman that Roger meets soon afterwards in a bar.
Breath In Between is a highly theatrical, mysterious meditation on radical intimacy, on the bliss of connection and the agony of isolation, on the ways in which people possess each other and struggle to bridge the gaps between them.”
The Production. The set by Shannon Lea Doyle is simple and very spare. A table and some stools are shifted to suggest various scenes. Roger and Amy meet in a bar and strike up a conversation. He’s poetic and low key. She’s subtly more aggressive. They develop an intimate relationship over time.
They role play—assuming the persona of the two strangers who saw Roger’s ad to kill anyone who wanted to die. When Roger and Amy become the two strangers they wear clear masks over their faces, held in place by an elastic band that fits over the back of the head. It’s an interesting dynamic between Roger and Amy who are intimate lovers and the victims who are killed. I guess being murdered by a man who offers to do the service is another kind of radical intimacy.
Anton Piatigorsky is also directing his production and this is his debut as a director.
He moves his actors with confidence and they are both strong: Kyle Gatehouse plays Roger—he’s sensitive, careful of what he says and does and compelling. As Amy Julia Krauss has an embracing charm, is subtly assertive and shimmers with curiosity about this man and his secrets. The production is beautifully performed and realized.
Richard Feren is the composer and sound designer and I find that too often scenes are underscored with sound that seems unnecessary and intrusive.
Comment. The playwright Anton Piatigorsky also offers his thoughts on his play in his program note: “Fostering intimacy with other people—and within ourselves—is one of the most radical things we can do…It is almost impossible to capture an intimate moment in words—and often it is best expressed in metaphor. Today, on stage, we offer a variety of carefully considered theatrical metaphors, a story of radical intimacy.”
I do see a metaphoric presentation in say, Samuel Beckett—two tramps waiting on a road for a man named Godot. But I’m not sure what the metaphor is in Breath In Between, the playwright’s musings notwithstanding?
And while Piatigorsky says “it is almost impossible to capture an intimate moment in words—and often it is best expressed in metaphor” I would disagree with his thesis. Words through the ages have captured intimate moments. I also offer that surely that’s what acting is about—acting captures intimate moments perhaps better than words do—a touch, a look a sigh capture all that.
In this case, I think metaphor distances us from connection or connecting with Roger and Amy. So I’m confused by what Piatigorsky wants to accomplish and what he wants his audience to glean from his production.
That said, I think he’s an elegant, esoteric often poetic playwright who delves deeply into emotions and how people think. He always gives me something to chew over long after I’ve seen the play. It’s just that I think that deep emotion does not work with metaphoric treatment. It’s certainly thought provoking. But as I said, Piatigorsky leaves you with lots to think about.
Crows Theatre presents:
Opened: Feb. 23, 2017.
Closes: March 11, 2017.
Cast: 2; 1 man, 1 woman
Running Time: 80 minutes, no intermission.