Leroy Street Theatre
Written by George F. Walker, directed by Wes Berger. At the Assembly Theatre. Runs until October 30.
In George F. Walker’s newest play, The Chance, Walker does what he does best: champions the underdogs. Marcie (Fiona Reid), her daughter Jo (Claire Burns), and their friend Amie (Anne van Leeuwen) are on the edges of what might be considered “respectable”: Marcie is trying to manage debt and fend off creditors, while Jo and Amie are strippers with their own problems and few prospects.
Walker has made these women wily and tenacious in their quest to grab any chance to get just a little further ahead. This means not necessarily abiding by the strict letter of the law. So when a mysterious cheque for a lot of money is found made out to cash, Marcie goes straight to the bank.
Dialogue runs like the wind in Walker plays because his characters are always thinking about their next move in order to keep three steps ahead of the sheriff. It’s clear director Wes Berger has a keen sense of the desperate worlds Walker creates, and certainly how his characters deal with that desperation.
The pacing and interplay is razor sharp. Scenes are beautifully compact, without one extraneous move. The cast of three are so accomplished it looks like they have been rehearsing for months. The humour comes from the characters’ wacky situations and how they make light of them. It’s done very seriously as all humour should be done—nothing will kill a joke or laugh-line faster than a character telegraphing where the laugh is.
Reid pops off Marcie’s lines with ease, yet still conveys her character’s weariness due to the state of her life. We watch her think on her feet—eyes focused, brain snatching at any idea that will help get her out of a jam. Burns plays Jo with a sense of hopelessness, but while Jo has a lot of worry, she has purpose and that keeps her going. Finally, van Leeuwen plays Amie as a devil-may-care party girl. She doesn’t seem to have a worry in the world but knows an opportunity when it presents itself.
For Leroy Street Theatre to have earned the rights to do a new Walker play and have cast the celebrated Fiona Reid in the part of Marcie is a coup. It’s a terrific production. See it before it closes on Monday.
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