Review from the Next Stage Theatre Festival: CANNIBAL

by Lynn on January 12, 2019

in The Passionate Playgoer

Part of Next Stage Theatre Festival, at Factory Theatre, Toronto, Ont.

Written by Thom Nyhuus

Directed by Courtney Ch’ng Lancaster

Set, props and costumes by Julia Kim

Sound and lighting by Cosette Pin

Cast: Michael Ayres

Justine Christensen

Joella Crichton

Thom Nyhuus

Bridget has just seen her play produced and it seems to be a hit. Her agent Liza raps at her door the morning after the opening night to gush about the reviews etc. Bridget is still a bit sleepy, she’s also not alone. Her leading man Wyatt is there in his underwear wearing one of Bridget’s silky robes. When Liza leaves Bridget’s ex-husband Adam arrives to congratulate her and also to seriously question her. He wants to know why Bridget wrote about their son in the way she did. The son was ‘taken’ when he was four years-old and has never been found. This caused trouble in that marriage and it couldn’t survive. Bridget wrote about their son in order to cope with the loss. There are all sorts of intriguing details about these characters and secrets revealed and twists that come startling at the end.

Director Courtney Ch’ng Lancaster does a nice slight of hand with the tricky first scene, the reality of which reveals itself at the end of the play. Justine Christensen plays Bridget as cool and confident. Rather than call her a ‘cannibal’, I would call her a manipulative  barracuda. Michael Ayres plays Adam as a serious, sensitive man who is trying to make a good life for himself. As Liza, Joella Crichton tends to yell her lines and overplay too much. As Whyatt, Thom Nyhuus is a bit underwhelming.

My problem with Mr. Nyhuus’ play is that I don’t believe one word of it especially coming from the mouths of these characters. They talk to each other all right; pride themselves on knowing someone better than they know themselves, it’s just that I don’t believe them. Liza who professes to be Bridget’s best friend and knows her better than Bridget does, doesn’t seem to know that Bridget never reads reviews so Liza’s gushing is out of place. If as Bridget’s agent Liza can’t tell the review she’s reading to Bridget is terribly written and lame, then I suggest Bridget get another agent (or Mr. Nyhuus write a better example of a review). Bridget also doesn’t know that Liza has moods and often wants to be alone.  There is a twist at the end, that is startling because it comes from no where and there are no hints along the way. The twist involves Bridget and Adam’s son and trust. If you are going to trust someone with your son then it would be helpful if you actually knew the person was up for the job and it was obvious that wasn’t the case. And yet Bridget wasn’t aware of it? Nope that’s too hard an improbability to believe.

Mr. Nyhuus has a nice facility with a turn of phrase. Now if he can go back and rewrite the play and the characters so that they can be believed.

Next Stage Theatre Festival continues to Jan. 20.

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