Drama Club is a regular Torontoist column, featuring the news, previews, reviews, and interviews theatre nerds like us need to read.
Photo by Ed Gass-Donnelly.
While most people cheered the announcement of Brendan Healy as new artistic director of Buddies, NOW pointed out (albeit a tad awkwardly) that this meant seminal queer Canadian writer/director Brad Fraser didn’t get the job. These days, he seems to be more popular with Factory Theatre, where his newish play, True Love Lies, has just received its Canadian premiere and opened their fortieth anniversary season. And Fraser isn’t the only one returning to Factory: he’s bringing David, a regular character in his work often considered the author’s own alter ego, along for the ride. In this show, David returns to Toronto and to the life of erstwhile lover, Kane, who has since switched back to hetero and now lives with his interior-design partner/wife Carolyn, and their two teenage children, Madison and Royce. When Madison tries to get a job at David’s restaurant, it sets into motion a string of events that leads to old family secrets being unearthed, new ones being buried, and a big, sexy mess where a family used to be.
Madison and Royce, neither of whom had any idea their dad used to be gay for a few years, are both surprised by the news, although they take it in different ways. Socially retarded and terminally geeky Royce is appalled by any idea of sexuality, while been-there-done-that Madison says “gay is so over” and doesn’t fight her attraction to her father’s one-time boyfriend. Meanwhile, Carolyn and Kane find themselves less and less able to perform their roles as parents or as spouses.
There’s a lot that’s good about True Love Lies, and there’s certainly a lot that’s funny. But it’s such a shame that Fraser decided to direct the show himself. His script is darkly funny, but it also asks some weighty and important questions about the nature of love and sexuality. At least we think it does. But the actors have clearly been told to perform their lines at a breakneck Gilmore-Girls-meets-The-Thin-Man speed, and it all goes by so quickly that’s it’s honestly hard to tell. The screwball-comedy pace doesn’t fit the tone of the piece, and it leaves the poor actors running around the set (which for some reason resembles a rather unappetizing cake) like chickens with their heads cuts off, in a constant state of scene and costume changing, not to mention furiously serving and clearing elaborate meals that are never touched, let alone eaten. The cast makes an admirable go of it, particularly Susanna Fournier, who manages to make Madison thoroughly appealing and engaging even when she has no right to be. But we can’t help thinking a more realistic approach would have made the evening the sharp and searing event Fraser clearly wants it to be (although out-dated references to Columbine-esque teens and “The Net” certainly don’t do him any favours and make him seem too out of touch with youth culture to be writing a play with teenage characters in it).
True Love Lies runs until November 1.