By James Karas
The old idea that a play should have a beginning, a middle and an end is not a bad one. A sequence of events in some logical or comprehensible order involving people has proven its endurance as a theatrical device for some two and a half thousand years and it behooves playwrights to practice it with variations that are limited only by their imagination.
That is a prologue to my review of After Wrestling by Bryce Hodgson and Charlie Kerr now playing at the Factory Theatre in Toronto. The play has four characters. Jaggy (Gabe Gray) is a policeman who is very concerned for the people he deals with and goes overboard in his solicitude for their welfare.
Leah (Libby Osler) lives with her brother Hogan (Charlie Kerr) and she falls in love with Jaggy. Hogan is very, very emotional. Gibby (Anthony Shim) is dead but appears in the play as a ghost. He was Hogan’s best friend and he committed suicide but he is still very much around.
I am afraid I got almost nothing out of the play. Hodgson and Kerr seems to be fans of 10-second scenes that go from nowhere to no place. They like screaming and screeching, plenty of noise and sequences that make no sense. Whatever the griefs, pain and problems of the characters, we never really get involved in them. The authors’ love of foul language and screaming by the actors so that we have no idea of what they are saying do not result in dramatic effects but in significant annoyance.
The dialogue is generally of extraordinarily low caliber. I am not sure if these people are supposed to be just low lives but even those people are usually equipped by authors with decent dialogue to express some kind of emotion. No such blame can be meted on the authors of After Wrestling and the actors repeat the lines that they memorized no matter how ineffective they may be.
Opening night attendees are the last thing one should consider for gauging audience reaction. In a large theatre, the friends and relatives of the actors are outnumbered and although they may make a racket, you quickly go for a walk
In a small theatre, the audience of friends and relatives of the cast and artistic team can make such a fuss as to be really annoying.
The set by Hodgson consists of the living room area of an apartment and below that an open space with a microphone indicating a radio station on our right.
There may be more substance to the play than this production made apparent. But author Bryce Hodgson directs and author Charlie Kerr stars in it. They may have needed someone with some distance from the play to make sense of it for us.
After Wrestling by Bryce Hodgson and Charlie Kerr produced by Blood Pact Theatre will run until March 18, 2018 at the Factory Theatre, 125 Bathurst Street, Toronto, Ontario. www.factorytheatre.ca.