Friday, 13 November 2015

Precisely Peter Production of Alan Bennett's Talking Heads Dark And Hilarious

Thank you John Shooter for leaving England and coming to Canada, or to be more precise Toronto. Because of your desire to create theatre in your new city, I have been delighted to attend plays by Mike Leigh (Abigail's Party) and Alan Bennett (Talking Heads).

Shooter is back with Talking Heads 2 and as the program notes state: "Step into the lives of six ordinary people, each concealing a far from ordinary secret!"

The 6 monologues have been divided into Part A and Part B. If you are able, I recommend  you see both parts.  At $25 per evening, $50 is all you will pay to see very talented Canadian and English actors performing the brilliantly witty, darkly-edged dialogue of Britain's preeminent author, playwright, and actor Alan Bennett (The Uncommon Reader, The History Boys, The Madness of King George).

I saw Part A last year, and recently took in Part B. The major contrast between the two parts is the difference in tone. The monologues in Part A are more dramatic, although, Bennett never lets the scenes get too heavy, using the catharsis of humour to direct us through each piece; the segments in Part B are more overtly humourous, but at their core, they are no less emblematic of life's challenges than his monologues in Part A.

Bennett's characters are everyday, relatable  people, and these monologues directed by John Shooter are expertly delivered by an outstanding cast. The scenes are presented in various rooms of Toronto's historic Campbell House, which gives each performance an intimate, voyeuristic feel, whether the character's experiences take place in a home, park, antique shop or church. Shooter's blocking moves the characters in such a way that the audience cannot escape the connection by proximity nor Bennett's quotidian soliloquises so perfectly rendered by each actor .

The Outside Dog in which Marjory, wonderfully captured by Naomi Wright shares her anxiety about a serial killer. Playing Sandwiches in which Jason Gray infuses his handyman character of Wilfred with both pathos and repulsion. A Lady of Letters in which Alex Dallas convincingly brings to life Irene, the neighbourhood busybody, who thinks her poisoned letters are for the good of society.

Remaining Performances
Evenings, 18, 20, 21
Door opens 7:30 pm; show begins 8 pm

Matinees, November 14
Door opens 2:30 pm; show begins 3 pm

The Hand of God in which Deb Filler artfully presents her antique shop owner character of Celia as a woman who is completely oblivious to her own middle class snobbery and greed. Shakespearean actor, Richard Willis deftly brings the right touch of empathetic neuroses to Mama's boy Graham in A Chip in the Sugar. Fiona Reid's matter-of-fact delivery is heartbreakingly humorous in Bed Among the Lentils in which Susan, a vicar's wife, struggles with her Godlike husband and her increasing lack of faith in Him and him.

Remaining Performances
Evenings, November 13, 14, 17, 19
Door opens 7:30 pm; show begins 8 pm

Matinees, November 21, 22
Door opens 2:30 pm; show begins 3 pm

Tickets: $25 (general admission)
Precisely Peter Production
Directed by John Shooter
Sound design by Evan Jerred
Set and costume designs by Rachel Forbes
Lighting design by Siobhan Sleath
Stage management by Laura Lakatosh
Production management by Christopher Douglas

Campbell House Museum*
160 Queen St. West, Toronto

* Please note that there will be no late admittance. Campbell House is not wheelchair accessible, patrons will be required to climb stairs.

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