Wednesday, 15 October 1997

Unidentified Human Remains, Oct 15, 1997

Unidentified Human Remains (and the True Nature of Love) by Brad Fraser
 Vortical Theatre Athenaeum 2 until Nov 23, 1997
Reviewed by KH around Oct 15, 1997

A well-written script can rise like a phoenix from even a mediocre production. Such is the case with Canadian playwright Brad Fraser's play, ˇ

Fraser has experimented with style, form and content in this witty and disturbing play. The narrative has several threads that finally weave together a range of young characters: some eccentric, others ordinary, one simply psychotic but all narcissistic and dissatisfied with their lives.

His language is raw and earthy and his dialogue hilarious. As a gay writer his intention is obviously to dispel some of the myths about homosexuality and he does so through his narrative and through his often camp humour. "Hi! I'm homo!" quips David. "'Some people are freaked out by gays.' 'Well some people like polyesterˆ'", says Candy.

David, the actor-waiter, is gay and promiscuous. His roommate, Candy, is anorexic, driven and lonely. His oldest friend, Bernie, is married and a philanderer. David's co-worker, Kane is sexually confused and adoring. Jerri, the lesbian, loves Candy. Candy loves out-of-towner, Robert. Benita is a psychic hooker. Everybody loves either Candy or David.

The adolescent social and sexual antics of these Generation X'ers seems trivial in the face of the spate of gruesome rape-murders which are terrifying the country town of Edmonton. It becomes evident that the psychotic could be any one of a number of these fun-lovers.

Fraser uses swift, snappy ad-break scenes, snapshots of characters and clipped, overlaid, abstracted dialogue to provide a series of images that echo the fractured lives of the characters and create an intense and nervous atmosphere.

Vortical Productions, directed by Darren Markey, made a courageous choice but have staged a clumsy version of Fraser's clever play. Much of the danger is lost and the performances are generally colourless. The emotional layering and complexity of structure are lost in the inexperienced and flat delivery, pedestrian direction and clunky design.

They do, however, hit some of the humour of Fraser's writing. This is a very funny play. It's exploration of the vagaries of relationships and the parallels between gay and straight lives are impeccably observed. Benita's obsession with childhood horror urban myths is highlighted by the real horrors in the community.


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