SUMMERWORKS: Say Nothing, Saw Wood, Review by Katherine Sanders

Say Nothing, Saw Wood

Written and Performed by Joel Thomas Hynes

Directed by Lois Brown

Presented by Resource Centre for the Arts Company

Presented at Factory Studio Theatre


Thursday August 13 8pm
Friday August 14 10pm
Sunday August 16 4pm

In researching this review, I googled Joel Thomas Hynes and found an interview on YouTube about one of his other works, the novel
Right Away Monday. In the interview Hynes refers to drug and alcohol addiction, saying, “When you’re in it you can’t see where you are… you can’t get perspective on who you are.” Say Nothing Saw Wood is another story about a character who loses that perspective for one brief but fateful moment. Hynes makes no secret about having been there himself, in fact the program notes describe an incident in his youth which could have altered his future drastically. Hynes clearly has empathy for his characters, whom he describes in the YouTube interview as often having a deep but subconscious feeling of emptiness.

In Say Nothing, Saw Wood, Hynes plays the character Jude Traynor. He enters the theatre in the dark, with slow deliberate footsteps. The lights come up on a man who looks like he’s at the gallows. His hair hangs in strings over his glaring red eyes. His hands fixed at his belt loops, he stands and delivers. His expression rarely changes as he peels back the layers, recounting the story of how he came to brutally murder an old woman when he was 17. His relationship to the woman he killed and the circumstances around the crime I will leave for the reader to find out, suffice to say all will be revealed with impeccable timing.

The director is Lois Brown (who was shortlisted for the Siminovitch prize in 2004). In her program notes she describes her goal of winnowing everything out from the original 2007 production, directed by Charlie Tomlinson. She certainly achieves the simplicity and restraint she is going for with this remount. Hynes, as I say, stands in the same position throughout the show, hands in pockets or belt loops, using minimal gesture and only occasionally changes position on the stage. A large rectangle of white light is the main design element, and Hynes moves slowly from one corner to another as he illuminates different parts of the story. He never moves through the middle of the rectangle, but paces the outside, which mirrors the development of the story, in which he is always skirting around the grotesque act. You know if you’ve read the program that it’s about a murder, but he takes his time getting to it. When he does address the subject, the white rectangle vanishes to be replaced by a golden yellow spot in the dead centre of the stage and he stands dead in the centre of that. There are two parts of the show where this happens. Once in the middle, once at the end.

The creepy violence of this story washed over me in waves until at the end of the hour I was immersed. And that’s all I’m going to say. I don’t want to spoil for anyone the subtle potency of this expertly developed monologue.


Anonymous said...

joel hynes is an idiot with no imagination/ all he writes about is his own life pretending its fiction/ oh and he writes about other peoples lives that have been told to him and pretends thats fiction by changing the names of people in the story. /any fool can do this but the trick is fooling people into thinking your an original writer when your just a PARROT ....

Anonymous said...

Re: "joel hynes is an idiot"

Whoa, sounds like a disgruntled failed writer to me...

Anonymous said...

"As Keith was about to get in the car, Adams walked over to him with his arms held open for a hug. Keith wouldn’t. They shook hands instead. Keith had told me that was the one thing he wasn’t so struck on. At the end of every session, Adams’d spread his arms out as an invite for a hug, like it was some kind of test to see if Keith had made any real progress. Or maybe a trust thing. Sure, me and Keith are goin’ on three years together and it still drains me to coax a hug out of him. But I thought it was a bit odd, Adams puttin’ Keith on the spot like that, right in front of me. It didn’t seem appropriate for some reason."

From Down to the Dirt, thought I'd take the time to type this out. I hear there's a short film being made of this particular chapter.

donna g said...

I fell asleep during this play. The monotone delivery and dark room made me nod off a few times. I understood the intent of the staging and performance style, but it didn't quite work for me. Having said that, I will probably read the play since the story being told was an interesting one.