Review: Metropolitan Operas

by Lynn on November 29, 2014

in The Passionate Playgoer

At the Theatre Machine, 976 Dufferin Street, Toronto, Ont.

Written by Joe Pintauro
Directed by Trevor Hayes
Set by AJ Little
Lighting by David Lafontaine
Sound by Nicholas Potter
Costumes by Miranda Vanlogerenberg
Starring: Clara Altimas
Breanna Dillon
Adam Driscoll
Caitlin Driscoll
Christopher Hayes
Trevor Hayes
Craig Henderson
David Lafontaine
Debra Lynne McCabe
Mark Paci
Joanne Sarazen
Danka Scepanovic
Ferelith Young

A brave endeavour to perform eight of Joe Pintauro’s many one act plays with interesting results for the most part.

The Story. These eight one act plays are part of Joe Pintauro’s 27 play cycle entitled Metropolitan Operas. As the program note states: “The pieces focus on the ‘saints and sinners and the dreamers and the destroyers’ of Pintauro’s sacred and profane world.”

The plays vary in effectiveness, taut writing, and compelling story-telling.

In Seymour in the Very Heart of Winter a chauffeur and a starlet are in an unlikely relationship, but of course stranger things have happened. He is pragmatic and financially responsible; she is flighty and suffers delusions of grandeur.

In Birds in Church two members of the church comment on birds in their church.

Rex is about a yuppie couple who are very careful about everything in their lives, especially food. The wife serves some kind of meat (chicken?) and her husband is mortified until he tastes it.

In Bird of Ill Omen a woman is visited by a silent character named Spook bringing her some kind of bad news.

Rules of Love is a conversation between a woman confessing to her priest that she has sinned by sleeping with and falling in love with a priest. The priest in question is the man she’s confessing to.

Ten Dollar Drinks is a meeting of two friends in a bar that serves expensive drinks. One friend is a very successful actress. The other is less successful and perhaps jealous of her friend’s success.

Soft Dude concerns a prostitute and her boyfriend who was also one of her ‘customers’ and his softness refers to his inability to ‘get it up.’

In Fiat a man suffering from AIDS plans on killing himself but is interrupted by a mysterious woman who comes into his hairdressing shop.

The Production. Director Trevor Hayes does a good job of staging this eclectic group of plays. His direction is efficient, well thought out and effective in conveying the point of each piece.

While the quality of the short plays varies, so does the acting in them. Highlights are David Lafontaine as Bob in Seymour in the Very Heart of Winter. He plays the matter of fact chauffeur with a snappiness to him. Bob is irritated by his date’s attitude and carelessness with money that he’s worked hard for. He mops at his food on the plate with a crust of bread that perfectly expresses his exasperation.

While it’s hard to tell what is happening in Bird of Ill Omen Caitlin Driscoll (as Doreen) is always compelling in what ever she plays. Here it’s Doreen who might be a prostitute who gets bad news from Spook. Driscoll is emotionally heightened as she peppers Spook with questions he barely answers. As Spook, Trevor Hayes (doing double duty as actor and director) is imposing but with a kind of sensitivity.

Rules of Love is one of the best of the group of one act plays. Maisie is confessing to her priest, Jim. The writing is tight, weighty, and carries an emotional wallop. As Maisie, Clara Altimas is emotionally fragile and desperate to win her man. As Jim, Craig Henderson is of course emotionally conflicted; torn between his vows and his love of this woman. Pintauro gives us a sliver of hope at the end.

In Ten Dollar Drinks again the writing is swift, and gradually builds to an explosive ending. The piece is beautifully served by the acting of Joanne Sarazen as Bete and Ferelith Young as Star. Sarazen is increasingly combative wile Young is poised, confident and holds her own as Star. It’s a perfect pairing of these two fine actresses and the piece is wonderfully served by their acting.

Comment. Time got away from me and I wasn’t able to post this review on the last evening of their run. As I said earlier, Pintauro’s writing is not totally solid. The quality fluctuates as does the acting. I missed Witchboy’s first show in Toronto and am glad I saw this one. The company is composed of actors who might have more experience in TV and film but what to hone their theatre acting chops. That’s wonderful. I look forward to their next show. I hope by then they will plan their program better. I want to know the dates of the run of the show; where it’s playing and how the public can get tickets all on the front page. All that is missing in this program.

Also, the cast, titles of plays and technical staff goes on the inside of the program. There was plenty of room to have done that, and used a larger font so we can see who is playing what. Sometimes it’s a steep learning curve. But considering the verve with which this company tacked the challenge of putting this show on, I think they will straighten that curve in no time.

Produced by Witchboy Theatre

Opened: Nov. 19, 2014
Closes: Nov. 29, 2014
Cast: 13: 6 men, 7 women
Running Time: 90 minutes approx.

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