A Good Idea (In Theory) is a new play currently running at Passe Muraille that, as its title implies, is trying to do things a little differently. For starters, in lieu of a program, audience members are given a soundtrack CD. As the play’s website explains, the idea behind the project came from the question: “What would happen if an award-winning stage play by a young Canadian was supported by a group of independent Canadian musicians?” Each night for the fifteen minutes before curtain, a rotating roster of musicians plays a short set for early birds in the Passe Muraille backspace. The soundtrack is a compiliation of these musicians’ work. The play is not a musical and no music is played during the show; it’s more an experiment in cross-promotion than a multi-disciplinary work. The other interesting (if not entirely radical) aspect of this play’s production is the website itself, on which you can listen to the entire soundtrack as well as watch trailers for the play.
Of course, all this experimentation and innovation would be for naught if the play itself were junk, which it fortunately is not. In fact, it’s very good. Emma Roberts’ excellent script tells the story of an old man named Otto and his family. Otto’s house is on an island, where he lives off the royalties for a radical hippie manifesto that brought him some recognition when it was published 30 years ago, and has spent every day since attempting to write the sequel. Since his wife Benny died, their daughter Juliette has been in charge of taking care of the family financially, which irks her, especially because Otto and his adopted daughter Tricia (who happens to live in a tree) seem blissfully unaware of the difficulties of doing so. The action is spurred by the return of Blake, the son of Otto’s deceased best friends and the only other members of his tiny island community. After an absence of many years as a result of an apparent teaching gig at a University in Florida, Blake comes back divorced, suicidal and still carrying a torch for his childhood sweetheart Tricia. The cast is excellent, particularly David Fox as the crotchety old Otto and Aviva Armour-Ostroff as spacey, charming Tricia. And the production makes great use of the space and all of its limitations.
Here’s the play’s trailer, if you’re interested. Could this become the latest trend in theatre?