SummerWorks 2014: Complex Review

Complex

Complex

Juried Series

This Toronto set culture clash takes place between Sarah (Emily Piggford), a 23 year old U of T graduate student studying math, and Warren (Mazin Elsadig) a troubled 15 year old Chalkfarm teenager, who she’s trying to tutor. They come from vastly different background, but both have to deal with loved ones facing mental illness. Sarah goes home to deal with her boyfriend’s OCD (played by Tim Walker) and Warren has to deal with a depressed and delusional mother (Beryl Bain).

There’s a great idea in here, and some good performances from Piggford (who injects the material with some much needed humour) and Elsadig (who exudes a great deal of necessary confidence), but something is definitely off here.

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Christopher Stanton’s direction and staging is far too, well, complex and ambitious for the space provided to the show, leading to awkward moments where the actors have to unconvincingly manoeuvre the backdrops into different positions to signify new locations. Some shows can pull that off, but not this one. It just feels awkward, sucking the momentum out of the piece every five to ten minutes.

But perhaps what’s even more annoying and potentially damning is that just as the show starts to get really interesting, Rebecca Applebaum’s script simply ends with an almost halfhearted shrug almost out of nowhere. Just as the characters are approaching something close to growth and after so much work has been put in by the cast, it feels like a let down.

The show’s sometimes muddled attempts to use math and mental illness as metaphors for the schizophrenic cultural and economic divides in Toronto could stand to use some tightening, but what this really needs is a bigger space to fully succeed and a proper final act instead of a final coda that feels like a stack of math books being dropped on the floor in a huff.

Remaining performances at Lower Ossington Theatre Studio (100A Ossington Ave.)

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Monday August 11, 6:30pm
Tuesday August 12, 6:00pm
Wednesday August 13, 8:00pm
Friday August 15, 10:00pm
Saturday August 16, 3:30pm
Sunday August 17, 12:30pm

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