2 min

Thrilling ride

Love, pain, the whole damn thing

FROM CLICHÉ TO REVELATION. Daniel MacIvor takes a queer journey to suburbia. Credit: Guntar Kravis

Representing the myth of the lonely gay male has become such a timeworn cliché that it can be difficult to look it in the face on stage or screen without cringing: “What are they going to do with us this time!?”

Cul-de-sac, da da kamera’s most recent collaboration from Daniel Brooks and Daniel MacIvor, in the space of 70 minutes, takes the cliché and twists it in and out of suburban life in a rich and vibrant way. I hardly noticed, until it was too late, that I was being lead through a harrowing urban legend that ended in a moment so poignant and striking that it made me want to go out and get drunk and fall in love with a hooker.

References to Gilbert and Sullivan as the catalyst for a straight couple’s relationship… radical notions of AIDS discourse from the mouth of a precocious little girl… MacIvor weaves what has become part and parcel of modern homosexual iconography into a script that has been called a “quirky and contemporary take on Thornton Wilder’s Our Town.”

In the hands of a performer as skilled as his, with the aid of co-creator Brooks, this complex collection of neighbourhood stories makes for a thrilling evening of theatre. MacIvor’s knack for impersonation bears a kind of Brechtian quality where he channels “authentic” voices through his body but never loses a sense of his own persona. Like the work of US performance artist Anna Deveare Smith, MacIvor appears to inflect each character with traces of his own voice and the voices of all the characters who have come before, thereby giving his audience a seamless representation of the differences and similarities that mark the human presence. A woman with a British accent can be mistaken for an “affected” gay man within this complex lexicon of vocal technique.

Richard Feren’s soundscape and Kimberly Purtell’s lighting design brilliantly punctuate and amplify words and actions in a way that sharply defines the narrative.

In closing, MacIvor sings lines from a Mary Margaret O’Hara song, not long after he has likened the events of his character/narrator’s life to the events of any straight guy who might have paid attention to hockey when he was young. All that has come before illuminates these final moments and we are lead to believe that the mythology of the lonely older gay male can be found anywhere, in a straight or a gay body. This is the strength and the purpose of this brilliant piece. It must reduce life experience to simple images and words in order to show us that nothing can be so damn simple.

* Cul-de-sac continues at the Canadian Stage Theatre (26 Berkeley St) until Sat, May 31; call (416) 367 – 8243.