Friday, October 30, 2015


photos by Cylla von Tiedemann
Gord Rand’s new play, The Trouble with Mr. Adams, deals with very troubling issues around inter-generational desire and pedophilia – issues that are never fully resolved. And this may very well be the point of the play – the unresolvable, blurred lines that occur between socially unsuitable paramours when the facts are distorted for the sake of legal efficacy and potential, blighted triumph.

Allegra Fulton, as Mr. Adams lawyer, epitomizes this need to ‘contextualize’ the truth in order to get her client out of very hot water as she brilliantly delineates a character deeply entrenched in careerism and legal terminology. She convincingly plays off of the self-assured darkly comic bravado that Chris Earle, as Mr. Adams, so expertly portrays in this very unsettling and deviously mannered script.

Out of the blue dialogic quips and quirks come out of the mouths of Mr. Adams and his teasingly enraged wife in an opening scene that makes Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf look like a polite little squabble. Overt sex becomes a daring and unsettling game whereby the deceived wife suddenly bounces into the sporty attractiveness of her spouses’ very young love interest. The playwright sets up an almost psychodrama scenario from start to finish where we become voyeurs to very private, very questionable moments of all too human reaction, interaction, and re-enactment.

Philippa Domville, as Mrs. Adams, delivers a superbly mannered performance that moves from rage to seduction to bemused calm and self-assurance as she lays out a potentially unfortunate future for her philandering hubby. Mr. Adams is a volleyball coach, and the bouncy team sport becomes a metaphoric receptacle for Rand’s speedy back and forth dialogue. The volleyball ultimately takes on the role of a gilded, mysteriously managed prop that gains full import just before the end of the play.

There is never a dull moment and the performances are impressive, with an extremely convincing portrayal of the young woman. Sydney Owchar portrays Mercedes McPferreridge – the star volleyball player – with a fine sense of teenaged innocence as it moves subtly and self-assuredly into the arena of young adulthood. Director Lisa Peterson has taken a dynamic script and infused a breakneck, well conceived pacing and expansive blocking that provide the perfect rhythms to match the highs and lows of this highly dysfunctional drama.

One leaves the theatre wondering whether this is a play about ‘real’ characters or a very clever, skilful, entertaining, and deeply disturbing exercise in highly strung verbal warfare whereby the lead role, and the three women he so deeply affects by his boundary-less behaviour, say and do things they have no fully-resolved understanding of or freedom from. Adams unevenly coaches them all in his wide-eyed arrogant manner, and in the process seems to gain little to no complex understanding of his own actions. All of the characters appear to be trapped in a seering form of social panic that none of them can fully escape, making The Trouble with Mr. Adams an eighty minute roller coaster ride of anything but light entertainment. And yet, somehow, entertaining nonetheless - due to Rand’s immense skill for surprising, clever dialogue that jumps at you time and again with sudden self-assurance and darkly comic strains that create the kind of muffled, half-embarrassed laughter one might feel when confronted with the fear of one giant, unresolvable taboo.


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