by Lynn on March 28, 2018

in The Passionate Playgoer


At the Theatre Centre, Toronto, Ont.

Written and directed by Sky Gilbert

Sound by Lyon Smith

Lighting by Wesley McKenzie

Cast: Aldrin Bundoc

Claire Burns

Shawn DeSouza-Coelho

Lyon Smith


The Story. Avant guard  John Cage is having affairs with both (painter) Xenia Kashevaroff and modern choreographer, Merce Cunningham. While Cage married and divorced Kashevaroff, he stayed in an open relationship with Merce Cunningham for 50 years. Quite frequently Cage cruised parks and picked up men for quicky sex. When Kashevarooff asked Cage the basis of his relationship Cage replied flippantly, “I cook, he does the dishes.” Cage’s smarmy answer could just as easily sum up the story and point(lessness) of this play.

The Production. As the audience files into the Incubator Theatre of The Theatre Centre and sit on cushions around the playing area, a couple is laying on the floor talking quietly (inaudibly to the audience). Their body language is affectionate; his arm is around her as she lies in his arms. She strokes his chest. Interestingly he is fully clothed and she wears a blouse, black panties and stockings. Hmmm, he’s fully clothed and she’s half dressed. Odd that. They discuss how Cage loves both her and Cunningham.

When the plays starts we hear the man, John Cage (Shawn DeSouza-Coelho), and the woman, Xenia Kashevaroff (Claire Burns). They talk about sex—he doesn’t think they really need it. He changes his mind when he meets Merce Cunningham (Aldrin Bundoc). We glean this is Mr. Cunningham because he does a few ballet moves. When Cage and Cunningham do get together the body language is erotic and passionate.

Cage gives a lecture on harmony, seemingly to two giggling twits who giggle at various points in the speech. That is the extent of knowing this is John Cage the composer. There is a chess game between Cage and Cunningham in which each puts a microphone to his throat to record the noises as they drink a bottle of water. A note in the program says that the game will be live streamed on Facebook should anyone care to check it out.

A gay porn movie between three men is played on a laptop computer across the playing space as Cage picks up a man in a park and takes him to a dark corner of the space for sex. Xenia gives Emma Goldman’s speech about marriage towards the end of the play. At about the one hour mark of this play that is one hour and fifteen minute play, a character says that by now we should have realized this was not a play about John Cage the composer but about John Cage the man. That’s wishful thinking. The acting is mainly the cast declaiming their lines.

Comment. Thank God for Google in case you didn’t know who Xenia Kashevaroff, John Cage or Merce Cunningham were. The play doesn’t give you a hint. Characters are not detailed or clearly written—this isn’t being avant guard, or suggestive or coy. This is merely self-indulgent noodling. Nothing written here gives any indication why any of them deserved a play. Perhaps the subtitle might give a hint: “A play for John Cage and Merce Cunningham.” Not about them, mind you, but FOR them. Wow. Pretention on toast.

Presented by Cage-on-the-Run Productions

Opened: March 23, 2018.

Closes: April 1, 2018.

Running Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Lyon March 28, 2018 at 4:04 pm

Ahahaha I love this 🙂


2 Gabriel Cordova March 30, 2018 at 10:16 pm

Thank you for this review, I just saw this play and it was really disappointing. I’m glad someone shares my thoughts.


3 John April 2, 2018 at 8:12 am

I saw this and it was awful. I am not being prudish at all…but Gilbert is 30 years behind the curve if he thinks that showing gay sex for the sake of showing gay sex is subversive in any way. We got nothing from these characters…no depth from the play. I seriously doubt that the actors…who were good but had nothing to work with….even liked the material themselves.