Two Canadian Plays, Eh? opened at the Heritage Playhouse in Gibsons a week ago to less than a full house. Directed by Scott Harris, the first play was Total Body Washout by Toronto's Drew Carnwath and the second, Overlaid, was written in 1948 by Robertson Davies.
My recommendation is to see these two lively plays in their few remaining performances. Go see the first play by Carnwath for the stellar performance by Harris, if not for the somewhat rambling monologue. Go see the second by Davies because it is truly a gem and offers three great performances.
The title, Total Body Washout, refers to a hospital machine that drains the blood and washes it. It's like being born again, says the play's character, James Hart (Harris) who portrays a "bucket" or patient on the psych ward, committed because of his anxiety attacks. The solo performance by Harris is outstanding for its range and complexity, but even though the one act play ends on a high note, it is depressing. However, there is clever repetition of themes, witty word mangling and a few refreshing insights into human nature.
Overlaid is a gem. It makes its point quickly, deeply and in a manner that allows each of the three actors to surprise their audience. David Steele plays the grandfather whose dreams are mighty -and whose wisdom is questioned. Denise O'Brian plays the daughter who has her own secret dream, while Harris plays the brash young insurance salesman sporting his own set of values.
The pacing of this play is impeccable; the character portrayals are comic. O'Brian, with her fussy gestures and mannerisms, is particularly funny. She is the only performer I know of who can display wordless scorn so witheringly by a simple, disapproving twitch.
Two Canadian Plays, Eh? are on tonight (Sept. 23) and Saturday, at 8 p.m. Tickets are $12 at the Heritage Playhouse.