SummerWorks 2008: Gay Panic and Genocide

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SummerWorks 2008: Gay Panic and Genocide

2008_08_14Darfur.jpg Winter Miller’s In Darfur, playing now at SummerWorks, is set in 2004, when the world knew little about the genocide in Sudan. Maryka is a reporter for The New York Times who wants to break the story and doesn’t care what she risks in order to do so. Carlos is a UN doctor concerned only about the safety of the community he serves. And Hawa is an English teacher who has experienced the genocide first-hand and may be the key to telling the world about the atrocities.
The script goes really heavy on the exposition at some points, which is always a problem with this kind of play. But Dorothy A. Atabong (pictured) is very appealing as survivor Hawa, and Lindsay Anne Black’s set design is absolutely gorgeous.
Another show worth checking out at Passe Muraille this fest is Crush, by Hume Baugh, a trailer-park tragedy about love, lies, and TV. Ronny is a white trash ‘mo who regularly gets black eyes from his late-night hook-ups. Sandra is his faghag best friend, a plus-size devotee of tacky daytime talk shows. When hunky (and recently single) Martin moves into the neighbourhood, both friends find themselves drawn to his good looks, failing to notice his antisocial tendencies. That the play features some (very well-staged) violence and doesn’t have a very happy ending comes as no surprise.
Gay panic stories are a dime a dozen, but Crush actually manages to pull it off without ever seeming exploitive or cliché. The script is tight, mostly believable, and often very funny, even in its darkness. The cast is also fantastic. Julian DeZotti brings all the requisite handsome broodiness to Martin, and Ryan Kelly is completely convincing as the charismatic Ronny. But it’s Siobhan Power who steals the show as ever-daydreaming Sandra. She manages to be funny and very likable while at the same time terribly sad.
The SummerWorks Music Series continues tonight with performances by Claire Jenkins Avec Bande and The Rural Alberta Advantage. Tomorrow night, it’s Rock Plaza Central and actor/singer Evalyn Parry. Things wrap up on Saturday night with Sunparlour Players and Laura Barrett. All concerts are at 10:30 p.m. at the Theatre Centre.
Photo by Andrew Lamb.

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