FRINGE TORONTO: The Particulars, Review by Evan Webber

The Particulars

Written by Matthew Mackenzie
Directed by Vahid Rahbani
Presented by Second Body Productions

Featuring Alex McCooeye

Presented at the Tarragon Theatre Mainspace, 30 Bridgman Avenue

Alex McCooeye plays the narrator of Matthew Mackenzie’s one-man The Particulars, as might the refugee a bio-mechanics class, who, having escaped from Stalin’s tentacles finds himself in a differently brutal world of church basements, home-repair, and restless loneliness. Vahid Rahbani directs for clarity while committing to the frenetic style. Some moments are balanced just right, and achieve an ominous poetry (a rolling up carpet is a bed and the absence of a bed, and something else) though the production sometimes plays too many notes at the same time in an effort to make up for lack.

Mackenzie is a skilled writer with an sharp eye for the details that make up the bulk of the play. Moments of the text give his Oakville, or Evansville, or anywhere-in-Canada-ville the labyrinthine alienation of Kafka’s Prague, and the grimy, cheery mechanistics of Saramago’s Lisbon. The best moments, like the morning walk in the valley, make (as the refugee above might say) the familiar, strange – and haunting too. It’s extra sad then when the writing flags and slips into sentamentalism and mockery. Someone more charitable than me can write off these little ticks as the minor symptoms that appear following an innoculation against Fringe-itis. No doubt this shot gives the play better odds of thriving in this environment. I wish it had taken itself more seriously.

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