Saturday, October 12, 2019

Anthony McMahon & Thomas McKechnie

“I worked ‘til I was ready to die. I made it. I belong here. I have carved myself into this country.”
She’s from Moldova, he’s the son of Chinese immigrants. She’s a factory worker by day and a waitress by night. He’s a cab driver.
One night he picks her up running from job to job and their whirlwind relationship begins.
A typical Toronto love story, stolen in the moments between shifts. But can their love survive a city in late capitalism?

What sets this two hander apart from other dire warnings about the ills of capitalism are fine tragi-comic performances by both actors and a script that integrates a complex love story into a dead end formula for trying to make it in a world run by money mongering money mongers in a money mongering jungle of familial emotion and impeccable timing. The comedy alleviates much of the horror. And ample horror there is when the writers take on powerfully effective metaphors regarding dead cows and chickens that at times have the audience in grossed out awe of all that is laid out before them.

Both performers deftly handle fast paced intimate dialogue and varied characterization as they seamlessly move into the characters of their parents, back to themselves, with frequent sojourns into a kind of economics lecturer mode as they explain, in very accessible terms, how the one percent become the one per cent, and how others can try to get there even though capitalism cannot allow everyone to succeed within its narrow scope of greed, global domination, and dependence upon the existence of poverty.

Shannon Currie is an engaging and charismatic Veronyka as she makes her way through a dog eat dog eat chicken eat cow world. Matthew Gin as Jack matches his romantic sparring partners energy and eagerness with a subtlety and grace that contrasts beautifully with his wife Veronyka's less sentimental, but equally as loving approach to survival.

Guillermo Verdecchia's direction is clear and extremely well paced, integrating props movement and setting change into the actors duties as they flirt with socialist principles in a bewildering race toward the ultimate compromise. The upcoming election makes their journey an especially bittersweet one, complimented by a fourth wall that begins as a kind of meatpacking screen and moves into a semi-naturalistic setting for the bloodthirsty struggle up the economic ladder, and through all of the joy and betrayal that relentless climb can involve.

Based on Upton Sinclair's novel of the same name, The Jungle is a clever, engaging warning for what has already come to pass, what continues to grow, to evolve, mutate, all that jazz, as we barrel through a late stage of the same old captivating capitalist crap. Perhaps all we can hope for is some slight leverage when the ballots come in this month and we begin yet another roller coaster ride through whatever the powers that be decide to grace us with from above, tra la.


And as a side note, Tarragon's new water stations are a great addition as they rid the bar of single use water bottles. But the $25 (or so I was told by a courteous attendant?) shiny silver metal personal water bottles beautifully emblazoned with the name of the theatre in dramatic black letters need to be replaced with something more affordable and less contrary to plays like The Jungle where money is the object and survival cannot be imagined when a drinking vessel costs the price of a good chunk of weekly grocery money. Just sayin'...
runs at Tarragon Theatre's 
until November 3rd

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