Nov. 06, 2007 - Issue #629: Dust
Stuck in pathos, Zotter still shines
Playwright David Rubinoff, through his use of internal rhymes and bizarre associations, has constructed a one-man solo opera. Jack is given soaring prose arias wherein the mind is released to run amuck through the winding labyrinth of an altered reality. They’re held together by quieter recitative that is no less attention grabbing, but serves to move this tale along.
There’s wit here, sly barbs at the self indulgence of artistic navel gazers, pokes at the self-conscious Canadian identity and the chip it sports on its maple-leaf shoulder. At times, the script does wander into the dangerous territory of cultural introspection—moments become a trifle too pat, with too much overt suffering. Much of the script’s effectiveness lies in its ambiguity, and underhanded commentary. What saves it is the gritty luminescence of unexpected redemption—an elderly mental patient painstakingly buying the protagonist a Mars Bar with 20 nickels, or a kindly beggar who teaches him the secret of wringing humanity from the Bay Street types. Directed by Rob Moffatt, the play takes place on two wooden boxes under a firmament of burned-out light bulbs, low key, serving as a frame that highlights the actor. Moffatt sets a brisk pace for Zotter, infused with many physical demands. Inventive use of the set, lighting and movement create the illusion of drug-induced flight through the smog. Moffatt has an ear for the cadences of the script, building in congruent climaxes peppered with arresting moments of stillness. It’s incredibly actor-friendly in a script engineered to showcase the performer.
Zotter is an actor possessed of a distinct flair for metamorphosis. He inhabits each individual in Jack’s world with impeccable technique and an arresting presence. Zotter’s compelling eyes communicate much that is unexpressed in the text, and his wholesome demeanour places a compelling discord upon Jack’s desperate actions and self-hatred. There is a rancid sweetness about his Jack, and while his subordinate characterizations are very funny, they have a whiff of reality around them. He is a lithe performer, able to hurl himself both physically and mentally into the deepest recesses of his character.
Having said that, neither the direction nor strength of characterization are quite able to overcome the more obviously emotional passages in the piece. A major flaw is a tendency to linger over the pathos: there were a few moments where I felt as though my heart was being deliberately wrenched. Overlying Zotter’s impressive conviction is a slightly jarring earnestness to get the humanity of the script and the tragedy of addiction across. There is a feeling of commentary that mars an otherwise absorbing 75 minutes on the skids. V
Until Sat, Nov 10
Directed by Rob Moffatt
Written by David Rubinoff
Starring Frank Zotter
Third Space (11516 - 103 st), $18/$23
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