Volume 10 Week 10

Sunday, Dec. 14


Updated March 2

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Orléans Ward
Bob Monette





(Posted 12:30 p.m., June 13)

Latest ENCORE! theatre production sheer brilliance
By Fred Sherwin
Orleans Online

Several of the characters in the ENCORE! theatre company production of 'the lost one' try to wrestle a toy hand granade away from the youngster in the final scene. Fred Sherwin/Photo

I recently went to see the ENCORE! theatre company production of "the lost one" and I can honestly say that I'm not really sure what the play is all about, but I'm not sure it really matters because what I witnessed was one of the most brilliantly well-written and entertaining plays the company of young actors has produced in years.

"The lost one" is based on a photo of a boy holding a hand grenade. That's right, as strange as it sounds the play was written by the six cast members after their instructor and the play's director Emily Pearlman brought a Diane Arbus photograph entitled "child with toy hand grenade in Central Park" into one of their first classes..

I'll try to provide a loose synopsis of what they came up with. The play is about a young boy who has relationship issues with his father. He's also visited by so-called "night people" who infiltrate his imagination.

Questions are raised about his father and the sincerity of their relationship which leads him to Central Park where he meets several odd characters who ignore his calamity until he pulls out a hand grenade and threatens to blow them all up before everyone realizes its merely a toy.

The action is orchestrated by a bizarre character referred to as the Toymaker who seems to enjoy the boy's mental anguish as he struggles with his own preconceptions about what is the truth and what is not, or at least that's my take on the play.

Other people may interpret the plot differently, which is one of the interesting things about the play.

James McDougall, who plays the Toymaker, says he's heard as many variations about what the play is about as there has been audience members.

"One guy came up to me after the first night and said he thought it was about mental illness, which I had never thought about before, so it's kind of neat that it can be interpteted in so many different ways."

McDougall is absolutely incredible in the role of the Toymaker. I couldn't take my eyes off him during the production and I hung on every word that came out of his mouth. His portrayal of the Toymaker actually reminded a little bit of Roddy McDowell in "A Clockwork Orange".

But what's really great about "'the lost one" is that the other actors don't get lost in the script or vershadowed by McDougall's brilliance because they are all brilliant in their own right. I loved Jeysa Pratt who plays the bag lady, and Eric Morlang, who plays the man in the tree, was great as well as was the rest of the cast that includes Katie Cunningham, Alison Capuano, Patrick Villeneuve and Lewis Caunter.

The play is truly a collaborative effort that relies on improvisation which helps make every performance unique in its own right. I can only imagine the fun the actors had both in producing the play and acting in it.

With their three performances at the Orleans Théatre out of the way, the cast is busy preparing for their upcoming appearance at the Ottawa Fringe Festival which gets underway on June 18 at a number of downtown venues. Showtimes are Sunday, June 28and June 27 at 1:30 p.m. in the University of Ottawa's Academic Hall.

The play is a perfect match for the festival which explores the boundaries of live theatre and tries to broaden just a little bit and I highly recommend taking the time to go see it. For more information about this year's Fringe Festival visit www.ottawafringe.com.

(This story was made possible thanks to the generous support of our local business partners.)

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