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|Written by Wayne Current|
|Wednesday, 02 November 2011 11:20|
Whispering Pines at the Irving Greenberg Theatre Centre (GCTC). Sanger's script is primarily set in 1987 Eastern Berlin, when Thomas (Kris Joseph), a Canadian academic, visits an artistic couple to discuss art and socialism. Nothing is what it seems, and Sanger presents us with three dishonest characters. Bruno (Paul Rainville) is a musician turned informant for the German secret police, Renate (Tracey Ferencz) is a painter allegedly having an affair with Thomas, and the idealism of all three is called into question when Thomas arrives.
On Friday, October 28, I attended opening night of Richard Sanger's |
A play that was well researched about Eastern Berlin and the trauma of living under the surveillance of the feared Stasi, where any neighbour, friend, or family member could possibly be an informant, would make for an interesting script indeed. Unfortunately for this production, it becomes clear that Sanger's narrative is not based in the historical realities of Soviet-controlled Berlin. It is instead merely a fantasy used by the playwright as a backdrop to construct a rather mundane narrative, which is ultimately nothing more than a lie within a lie within lie. The script fails to engage the audience or provide any meaningful insight. In a play where everyone is constantly lying, the audience has no incentive to listen to, or identify with, any of the characters onstage. As a result, the production fails to engage the audience on any level.
The problems with the script are compounded by director (and former GCTC associate artistic director) Brian Quirt's artistic choices. Those familiar with Quirt's version of The List will have a sense of what to expect from this production, as the aesthetic choices are very similar. Quirt removes all the emotion and theatrical tension from the play. The actors deliver lines with very little feeling or intensity (even where the action onstage would seem to require it). Instead they move around the stage in a listless, uncaring fashion. Like The List, these choices do not serve the narrative but instead result in production that is flat and lifeless from beginning to end.