Review: SLIP

by Lynn on January 23, 2016

in The Passionate Playgoer

At the Box, 89 Niagara St., Toronto, Ont.

Written by Mikaela Dyke Alex Paxton-Beesley, Paloma Nuñez, Daniel Pagett, Anders Yates
Directed by Alec Toller
Set by Bronwen Lily
Lighting by Melissa Joakim
Cast: Mikaela Dyke
Alex Paxton-Beesley
Paloma Nuñez
Daniel Pagett
Anders Yates

An intriguing play that is not a who done it but rather what really happened as two detectives try to decide if a crime was committed. Produced by the always provocative Circlesnake Productions.

The Story. Detective Mark Fielder and his partner Lynne Barrett are investigating the death of a young woman named Jane They piece together a story. She was in a relationship. She had a brother. Their mother was disturbed and had an effect on the siblings. Lynne Barrett has had her issues with police procedures. Her memory seems hazy at times. Her partner is worried and wants to help. The relationship is rocky.

The Production. As the audience files into the acting space, there are post it notes on the walls with dates and times, as if as reminders. There are also newspaper articles on many subjects stuck to the walls. The floor is strewn with sheets of paper that look like they have been ripped from books. I see the index of the Law Society Directory and a page from a book entitled “The Oldest Gay Couple in America.” The audience sits on either side of the space facing each other.

A young woman (Jane) lays on her back on the floor with a knife near her body and empty pill bottles around her. One did not belong to her but was for medicine suitable for an elderly person. There are serious bloody wounds on her arm. There is a bulletin board stage left and a geometric shape outlined on the stage right wall. Detective Mark Fielder and his partner Detective Lynne Barrett stand on either side of the body. They wear latex gloves. They each ask the other: “Tell me a story,” as a means of trying to find out what happened. The stories get more and more fantastical until they do look at the evidence around the room. I wonder why they don’t just look at the evidence first. There are photographs with writing similar to journal entries on the back. With some of their theories the action reverts to the past when the dead person sits up and re-imagines the theory of the detectives. The lighting changes for the scenes set in the past from full up (meaning the present tense) to dimly lit (the past). Scenes in the past are with a friend with whom she had a relationship and her brother.

I’m intrigued that while the detectives have marked out the various bits of evidence and commented on it, no reference is made of the paper strewn floor and there is no curiosity about what’s on the pages there. The rest of the apartment looks intact.

The script is very accomplished and even more impressive since the cast improvised and created it together. The work between Daniel Pagett as Mark and Alex Paxton-Beesley as Lynne is particularly fine. They whack the arguments back and forth like ping-pong champs but still give the impression they are listening to the other’s argument. As Mark, Pagett always seems to try and come up to the mark (no pun intended). He glories in the fact that he is first detective on the case. But being in authority sits uncomfortably on him, as if he always has to prove himself, but he still can stand his ground. As Lynne, Paxton-Beesley is poised, assured and enjoys twisting Mark around. Until of course her fragile state of mind is obvious and she makes various ‘slips’ in her work.

I must confess that I knitted my eye-brows when the source of Lynne’s problem was revealed. Not to give it away, while it is possible for this problem to strike someone as young as Lynne and perhaps Jane, I don’t buy it here. It’s too off the wall. And too ‘out there’ on which to rest part of the play.

Director Alec Toller has a clear sense of the play and keeps the pace driving. The scenes between the detectives are gripping.

Comment. I always appreciate the inventive story-telling of Circlesnake Productions. They are dark, intriguing and display a quirky way of looking at a subject for their plays. And even with my concern about one section of the story, this is a tight production done well, as usual for this company.

Presented by Circlesnake Productions.

Opened: Jan. 22, 2016.
Closes: Feb. 7, 2016.
Cast: 5; 2 men, 3 women
Running Time: 80 minutes.

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