by Lynn on November 18, 2014

in The Passionate Playgoer

At the LemonTree Studio, 196 Spadina Ave. Toronto, Ont.

Four plays comprise Circle Jerk:

Dust Peddling: Part II (from Soup Can Theatre)
Written by Scott Dermody
Directed by Joanne Williams
Starring: Scott Dermody
Lisa Hamalainen

Sex and This (from Aim for the Tangent)
Written by Wesley J. Colford
Directed by Jakob Ehman
Starring: Tiffany Deobald
Carys Lewis

Maypole Rose (from safeword)
Written and directed by Brandon Crone
Starring: Alexander Plouffe
G. Kyle Shields

The Session (from Soup Can Theatre)
Written and directed by Justin Haigh
Starring: Allan Michael Brunet
Matt Pilipiak

A thought-provoking group of plays about rough sex, consent, death, responsibility, revenge and getting even.

A brief comment or two on each play:

Dust Peddling: Part II/strong>
A man prepares for an encounter by doing some impressive flows of yoga poses. He then takes off his shirt and throws it behind him; then takes off his pants and throws them partially at me (last week I was hurled upon by residual stage puke (split-pea soup) and this week a character hurls his pants at me—I tell ya, it’s full life in the theatre).

A woman arrives and they go through the rough sex rituals of a dominatrix and her subservient (sometimes) partner. Actor/writer Scott Dermody writes of roll playing, bondage and particular relationships.

Sex and This
Two friends learn that their friend Bria has committed suicide. There is a party of their friends at Bria’s house and the friends are unaware she’s dead. The two friends check Facebook to learn of details. They are shocked and undecided what to do. They don’t call the police. They continue to check Facebook and think about going to the party.

Playwright Wesley J. Colford writes about the unsettling world of slavish devotion to social media without having the common sense to know the right thing to do in a crisis.

Maypole Rose
A same sex married couple plan to have sex. The aggressive of the two tells his partner to get ready because he’s going to ‘rape’ him. He uses a banana during the sex either as a prop, a suggestion, or an inventive way to use fruit. Then his partner drops a bombshell.

Writer Brandon Crone explores consensual relationships in marriage so it seems, and ups the stakes by having the sex rough if not violent.

The Session
A disgruntled employee at a nuclear reactor arrives for a session with the company therapist to see what is bothering him and how to help, with explosive results.

Justin Haigh writes of people battling despair, anger and getting even.

Comment. What an epic undertaking. Four independent theatre companies joined together to create four plays under the umbrella title of Circle Jerk. They could write on any topic but the one rule was that the last line of one play and to be the first line of the next. A call for lines went out to the public who replied with a torrent of lines. From that group the lines were selected.

Various composers composed the music that is played between plays as the set is changed. The compositions are intriguing and the playing is beautifully accomplished. The acting in all four shows is impressive.

I found the whole experience unsettling because of subject matter—which doesn’t bother me usually. The world was turned upside down three weeks ago when it was revealed Jian Ghomeshi was fired for alleged rough sex and violence that he recorded on his cell phone. The suggestion of a toxic workplace and alleged violence against women is referenced in some way or other in three of the plays, and also in a way in the fourth when a worker is disgruntled and efforts are made to correct it. Art imitating life and life imitating art.

As with small theatre companies I want to promote, I would like the following on your program cover page: the dates of the run; the name of the theatre and address even where you are playing; a clear e-mail address, phone number or website where we can buy tickets. It’s not much to ask, is it?

Soup Can Theatre, safeword, Aim for the Tangent Theatre present:

First Performance: Nov. 6, 2014.
Closes: Nov. 23, 2014
Running Time: 2 hours, 30 minutes approx.

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