Back-to-back Labute in Calgary. First, full disclosure of personal bias: Neil Labute is my favorite living playwright. Already a bit jealous that Kathleen grabbed that preview.
Having devoured every one of his plays (Thanks Calgary Public Library!), this was actually the first time I'd seen Labute performed. So how was it? Do the words still have that same punched-in-the-gut feeling when spoken aloud? For the most part, yeah. Rogues Theatre, small as they are, did a great job.
Labute's work is about people — friends, families, couples — inflicting as much emotional pain on each other until they break. With Some Girl(s), you get four of these. Our hero, freshly engaged, decides to visit four of his (best?) ex-girlfriends around the country before he officially ties the knot. His reasoning is vague, different for each person who asks him. And each girlfriend is affected in their own way, dependent on the repurcussions of his actions and their own personalities.
Mitchell Verigin walks the fine line of of being both charming and also an absolute prick. Each of the actresses (Fiona Morris, Michaila Skye, Aislin Winsor & Denise Wong) bring a completely different performance to the table, from the spontaneous and hysterical to the reserved and downright cruel.
Which comes to the problem of Calgary audiences. Sometimes they just don't know how to react. Yes, some scenes are uncomfortable, and if they make you feel that way, it means that they are doing something right. It doesn't mean that your natural response should be to start laughing. When characters are opening up old wounds on stage, or if the guy is tearing at the bedsheets in an attempt to hold down a helpless ex desperately trying to crawl out, it is not for comic relief. You should not be guffawing in the aisles. But hey, maybe I'm interpreting things the wrong way.
Hopefully with this under your belt, you'll be better prepared for reasons to be pretty, opening next week from Ground Zero Theatre. Should be fantastic. Hope to see you there, if you're better behaved.
Some Girl(s) from Rogues Theatre runs until November 6 at Pumphouse Theatres. See it if you have a chance.