Friday, February 9, 2018

Factory presents
Written and Directed by Kat Sandler
January 27 – February 18, 2018
A Factory Commissioned World Premiere
Performed by:
Sébastien Heins as Jackie Savage
Jeff Lillico as Tim Bernbaum
Khadijah Roberts-Abdullah as Lila Hines
Karen Robinson as Karen Hines
Richard Zeppieri as Tony Capello
Set design by Nick Blais
Costume design by Lindsay Dagger Junkin
Lighting design by Oz Weaver
Sound design by Verne Good
Dramaturgy by Donna-Michelle St. Bernard

Photos by Joseph Michael Photography

Kat Sandler's newest play is presented with impeccable direction suited to a fast-paced dramedy focused upon current events surrounding particular racialized communities. Sandler's dense writing bravado and clever play with popular culture and troubling debates regarding the artists  domain, matches her knack for moving actors around the stage like individuals trapped within devastating social queries that can become a matter of life and death.
Featuring a perfect ensemble cast where supporting characters do not seem to exist ... instead they frequently take centre stage and act as crucial elements of over-arching, complex issues raised throughout this two hour (one intermission) tour de force of rapid-fire, witty, and intelligent writing.

Sandler'as script acts as unsettling provocateur as audiences, actors, artists, and playwrights are asked, relentlessly, to carefully examine their race politics as they enter into each and every life - and art - interaction.
As  both playwright and director, she bravely goes into this hotbed of maze-like word&action with her eyes wide ___, and yet overstates the meta-theatricality of the situation when the second half of the play becomes a kind of play within a play - featuring a white playwright who just cannot get enough of the sound of his own desperate rants regarding artistic freedom.  And yet this is perhaps part of the point in a narrative about the nature of representation as it repeats itself over and over again, making headway slowly and painfully as racism gradually unravels and progress is made - much too slowly. Given recent events focusing on North American racism,  however, it is clear that progress can be painfully erased when political climates change and dismantle decades of grass roots anti-racist projects.

Jeff Lillico is brilliant as the fumbling writer eager to find fame beyond his plays - attempting to move into to a Hollywood realm of child actors turned self-promoting  adult artists struggling to succeed within a bigger, more lucrative, realm of the entertainment industry - film.
Sebastien Hein's Jackie moves and speaks with a confidence, both musically and vocally, as his take on the role displays the traits of an artist testing the waters of adult acting after a successful and decidedly populist part as a young teen idol. Heinz's Jackie has a commanding skilful presence that simultaneously charms and bewilders as his performance represents the sincerity of a character paying an actor craving a blockbuster career.

Karen Robinson as Karen, the protective mother and professional therapist, brings a unique strength to her role as she matches every bit of aggressive bravado that merrily tips the ensemble balance to three men and two women. Her analytic tone moves seamlessly into perfectly delivered, socially adept dialogue that competes, and ultimately dominates, the frequently whiny pleas of the white playwright. And yet there is a kind of compromised dignity in Lillico's  portrayal that wants one to feel some kind of sympathy for him. That is up to individual audience members to decide.
Richard Zeppieri's Tony is a dream supporting role that allows him immense comic relief moments, as well as moving - but always tinged with comic  timing and sensibility - with all of the cast members as he straddles his position as bodyguard and ex-police officer in touch (by degree), emotionally and professionally, with the situation the main character finds herself trapped within.
Khadijah Roberts-Abdullah's Lila is a wonderful study of a young woman in a position of compromised and deadly power. When that position becomes profoundly and legally challenged she retreats to the comfort of her family home, only to be confronted by the memory of trauma by two men who want to take her story away from her, remind her of its brutality, and leave her very little in return.
The final moments of the play emphasize this position of deadly power when it leaves one alone to face the complex consequences. BANG BANG is dramedy at its finest - and most problematic - with the two women left to face the past present and future - culminating in a form of stoic solitude  broken by a very ordinary detail about staying alive in a racist world.

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