Friday, April 25, 2008
Is the imagination of evil what enables it? This is the moral dilemma at the heart of Daniel MacIvor's monologue, Monster, and the scene connecting its characters is one of the most gruesome tortures I've ever heard (from 1998, predating Saw). However, the play struggles with itself to display this conceit, and Avery Pearson -- while believable and frightening as Adam, the angry voice from the darkness who would "rather be a blackout than a burst of light" -- is forced to undermine his menace every time he plays Janine, an all-too-innocent bystander, or emulates Denise, a clucking movie assistant with a long neck and tiny bladder. Pearson is far stronger when playing men like Al, the quietly angry boyfriend to Janine, and Joe, an addict who, in a burst of clarity, sees a new life for himself. We lose the nuance of the play, for a young boy obsessed with "the Boyle torture" only comes across as a shrill and excitable Pearson. We lose the subtlety of character, too, when they're reduced to tics or share the same vocal tricks, an actor-generated weakness. This is where the director, Steve Cook, should have stepped in. But like the staging itself, which keeps the actor far from the audience, the show is hands off, and as such is more about an actor showing off than an ominous display of the darkness within us all.