Title and Deed (Nightfall Theatrics)
The writing of avant-garde American playwright Will Eno (last seen on stage in Tarragon Theatre’s production of The Realistic Joneses) returns courtesy of Nightfall Theatrics, a company that has thus far trucked exclusively in Eno’s work, beginning in 2014 with the ensemble fake news tragicomedy Tragedy: A Tragedy at the SummerWorks Festival.
Director Stewart Arnott and actor Christopher Stanton followed up their SummerWorks-ing with the Canadian premiere of the one-hander Title and Deed in 2015, in an unjustly short run (Jon Kaplan managed to see and review it). This remount sticks around a bit longer, and Stanton now fully inhabits the role of Man, a witty and self-deprecating stranger in our land.
From the moment we walk into Tarragon’s intimate upstairs studio space, which Arnott has made even cozier with in the round staggered seating and end table and lamp lighting, Stanton is acutely attuned to our comfort—or discomfort. This continues once the show, or his monologue, begins; he circulates the room, making eye contact with audience members, and responding to our laughs or gasps with the occasional “thank you” or sad smile.
It’s a nuanced performance, which is necessary for the delicately balanced script, as Man wanders through his life story, circling around to ideas of home, familiarity, family, and communication; their etymological origins, and how his culture’s use of words and customs differs ever so slightly from ours. We never discover anything that could help us trace where exactly Man might be from. If we have any criticism, it’s that the black walls are turned into a chalkboard only once, a neat bit of staging that underwhelms for not being used again.
After one digression—the show is really just a series of them—Stanton/Man says, “That was a eulogy. Everything is, really.” At another point, he advises, “Don’t get too lost for too long.” But it’s perfectly all right to get a little lost in this show, and let yourself be swept along in its gentle waves of amusement and bereavement; in fact, it’s acutely cathartic.
To October 8, Tarragon Theatre Near Studio (30 Bridgman Avenue, 2nd floor), Tuesday-Saturday, 8 p.m., Saturday-Sunday, 2:30 p.m., $22 (Saturday matinee PWYC).