It isn’t surprising Unwashed Grape’s production, BISS-OUS: Four One-Acts by Andrew Bliss is going into an extended run. The collection of four short plays is refreshing, well-written, and well-performed.
The four one-acts all deal with one common and universally interesting theme – sex. Biss-ous examines the lives of all kinds of characters, ranging from a beaten housewife to a gay man in a nightclub. Their stories are different, but the basic preoccupation is the same. All the characters are sexually unfulfilled in some way, and almost all of them are acutely concerned with their sexuality.
The performances, for the most part, are very strong. Although Toma Weideman and Nathaniel Amranian were a little stiff (no pun intended), at the beginning of their opening love scene, they quickly warmed into the action of the scene and were absolutely believable.
Laura Mitchell had an almost haunting air in her solo act as an abused and despairing housewife. She mastered a flatness of tone and mannerism that was perfectly fitting for her character, and totally engaging. It was only unfortunate, for her and the audience, that so much noise could be heard in the background throughout most of her scene. Fellow actors and crew members should be particularly sensitive, perhaps, when such a quiet and intense scene is going on on stage.
One criticism of the show in general is that it could have been edited fairly heavily. The opening and closing acts were full of action, and managed to hold the audience’s attention through to the end. The two other acts, however, dragged on far too long, and would have benefited greatly from a few cuts here and there.
There was no need for Mitchell’s character to go on, and on about the troubles with her marriage and her sex life. The audience got the point two thirds of the way through, and were shifting in their seats for the remainder of the act.
The nightclub scene, too, could have been cut down significantly. The repetition made the amusing scene lose its lustre relatively quickly and the audience was waiting for something interesting to finally happen.
That said, the dialogue in all four acts was very well written. The actors are obviously comfortable with the language, which is a sign of good writing. There are a number of subtle, and not so subtle, jokes throughout the show; none of which seemed to be lost on the attentive audience.
Biss-ous has produced an interesting piece of work and theatre-goers should definitely take advantage of the extended run to go and check it out.
BISS-OUS: Four One Acts by Andrew Biss runs till Oct.8 at Theatre Ste. Catherine
264 Ste. Catherine East (Berri metro)
Tickets: $15 Regular, $12 Student
For reservations call: (514) 284-3939