Out at Sea, Slawomir Mrożek’s absurd fable was just what the doctor ordered.
For the past few months I’ve overdosed on politics:
- I learned a new verb: “kettling”
- Conservatives won election after election, with a tory trifecta lurking in the autumn when McGuinty faces Hudak.
- TV is no relief, with debt ceilings and popular uprisings (after a promising beginning in Egypt) gone sour in Libya, Syria, Bahrain.
If you’re as shell-shocked as I am, satire is the best medicine. I feel much better after an hour of laughter brought on by this Actor’s Repertory Company production.
Come to think of it, I don’t believe I have seen the word “satire” associated with Mrożek, whereas he is often associated with the theatre of the absurd. And it’s true, the bizarre story I witnessed today could technically come from Ionesco, except for its political flavour.
As I don’t want to give the play away (which would spoil the humour), I can only attempt to give some idea of its flavour by analogy. For example, Mary Trapani Hynes made a deposition to the Executive Committee at Toronto City Hall on July 28, 2011, a deadpan assault on logic reminiscent of Mrożek. When your world stops making sense, it’s time for another kind of sense:
Notice Hynes’ nod to Jonathan Swift, in calling these “modest proposals”.
Director Aleksandar Lukac sharply delineated the conflicts between the principals. Andre Sills played the alpha to perfection, dominating the stage with his voice and physical presence. Once you get that this strange world will be his, it all devolves into the struggle of the others for their own small place.
John Fitzgerald Jay, Gordon Bolan, and Sam Malkin are all delightfully different from one another in pacing, voice, and physical style. Their ensemble work is very musical, in the sense of supportively balancing one another for the overall effect.
Although the ARC production of Out at Sea is under the auspices of Summerworks—a festival limiting each show to about an hour in length—that length is just long enough for the show to build to its logical climax, enabling it to pack a wallop. Yes, it’s a silly wallop, but a wallop nonetheless.
Out at Sea continues at the Factory Theatre mainspace until August 14th. If I make the mistake of turning on the TV –and getting bummed out by the news—I might just need another dose of Mrożek to set me right.
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