The room doesn’t look like a dungeon. It appears bright and girlish. Its walls decorated with colourful drawings. Books and toys neatly displayed.
But on second glance, this room reveals a sinister side. It’s more like a cage, the walls reminiscent of a giant spider web or fishing net, designed to trap and hold. The neatness doesn’t seem to gibe with the youth and vivacity of Nora (Meghan Greeley) and Scout (Sofia Banzhaf), the room’s inhabitants. The barred red door is ominous.
Throughout Kingdom, playwright Meghan Greeley takes cursory first impressions about the room, its inhabitants and “Sir” (Andy Jones), its frequent visitor, and reveals the dark truths beneath.
The story is deeply unsettling. Nora has lived two thirds of her life in captivity, and Sir is an unstable master, slowly losing his ability to supply even the basic necessities of life.
Kingdom is not a comfortable, park-your-mind-at-the-door kind of play. It is so tightly woven and expertly performed that I was suffused with dread and curiosity to the very end. It offered an astounding view into the mind of a true survivor and a delicate, nuanced take on a ripped-from-the headlines topic.
On the surface, The Perfection of Man couldn’t seem more different than Kingdom. But in watching them back-to-back (and I suggest you do), I was struck by the ability of both shows to take you inside another’s head.
The Perfection of Man is a series of sketches by Misery Loves (theatre) Company. On one hand they are absurd and uproariously funny. On the other, they touch on chords that will resound in most of us.
For example, who can’t relate to the sketch that has two dancers (Kathryn McCormack and Matthew Lumley) dancing shyly and sedately in their keyhole spotlights only to let loose with wild abandon as the lights dim and they feel safe from judgment? Or the wounded woman (Mary Fay Coady) offering her heart (literally!) to any and all takers? Or even the randy Satyrs (Bare-chested Rhys Bevan- John and Bill Wood shod in high heels) gleefully expounding the joys of carnal pleasure?
This is a show staged with sparse elegance and attention to detail. It has something for everyone, or at least everyone who appreciates the playful, poetic and profound.
Kingdom: June 6-8 at 7pm
The Perfection of Man: June 6-8 at 9pm
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