Metamorphoses, a marathon of three-plays-in-one put on by Concordia students, is like an all-you-can-eat theatre buffet; the premise is appetizing but ultimately you end up overstuffed and underwhelmed.
Not to say that Metamorphoses, written and directed by Concordia professor Harry Standjofski, isn’t enjoyable; it is just far too long and equally unfocused.
The first of the plays is Morph, a contemporary take on Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis, the story of Greg (Callahan Connor, passionately committed to his role), a young man who realizes that he can’t get out of bed one morning. He begins to twitch and shake, talking about how he should have slept with the girl he loves instead of a waitress in a back alley, while also worrying about getting to work on time. Besides being “lonely, enslaved and horny,” Greg is turning into an insect. His family, shocked at first, become disgusted by his inability to speak or walk. In order to keep his room clean, Greg’s family hires a hilarious German cleaning lady (Amy Feld), whose accent and giant strides across the stage in rain boots was a perfect character study.
Yet, as the story unfolds, it becomes painfully clear that Morph is more of an opportunity for the students to try out character stereotypes (the Irish businessman, the pin-up girl, the shrill mother), which ultimately only drags out a storyline that loses steam halfway through.
Once Morph concluded, the audience was in desperate need of an intermission, but were restrained for another half-hour with the second play, love is like water. Luckily, love is like water was far superior and much more insightful than its predecessor, but unfortunately wasn’t given the theatrical treatment and time it deserved. In monologues AA (Avi Bendahan), an immigrant new to the western world, and BB (Iris Lapid), a misfit with a superiority complex, deliver the story of their lives side by side, facing the audience. The monologues were well-written and rather insightful, especially when Lapid spoke about going to prom stag (“or should I say doe,” she pondered). However, sometimes the digressions fell flat, only furthering the playwright’s opinions without significance to the play. “Can a guy really be deflowered? What kind of flower would it be? [And for a woman?] … a blood orchid.”
love is like water heats up soon enough, once the characters meet (with a mix of monologue and direct interaction) and quickly develop an infatuation. He is the proprietor of a dry cleaner’s, she is a customer with many flannel shirts. Bendahan and Lapid play off of each other well and made the simply staged play entertaining. Lapid delivered her lines with exceptional flourish, emulating a young Anne Hathaway with the clear diction and fast-paced soliloquies of a long-lost Gilmore Girl.
Finally, a brief intermission, giving the audience of the small theatre a chance to fully appreciate their surroundings. Located in the Cazalet Studio Theatre, just a short staircase above the Smith Auditorium in the Loyola Chapel, the stylishly grungy set was adorned with a large ladder and red spotlights, giving the plays a nicely paired edge. A screen on the left hand corner, used to display images of bugs dissolving into images of models for Morph, was not used for the subsequent plays but should have been as it added a deeper visual dimension to the setting. The set was definitely well done (as the raspy-voiced girl sitting in front of me said upon entering, “fuck yeah!”).
The third play, Evelyn Lee, opens with five-year-old Evelyn (Jennifer Warne, giving a bold performance) witnessing her mother having sex with a man other than her father. The image scars her so deeply, it sends Evelyn on a warpath of self-destruction. From living on the streets, to prostituting herself, to becoming a professional porn star, Evelyn continues to inflict emotional pain onto herself until she finally reaches her breaking point: a porno that is more about physical pain than sex. Again, Evelyn Lee shares the same weakness as Morph: the storyline could use some harsh edits to make for more enjoyable and swifter viewing.
No matter the content, the actors do well putting on the series of uneven plays. Aside from a few bland or overtly shrill performances, the young thespians save face for their professor’s ambitious creation. For his part, Standjofski should focus more of his attention on one or two of the plays shown and develop them further, either with more elaborate staging or with a more insightful, less kitschy plot.