Volume 95, Issue 86

Friday, March 15, 2002
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Lowest of the Low begins rise back to the top

Thrilling Digressions

J. Dee's a fantastic burger voyage

Sector Seven quarantine London

Hot Water heats it up onstage

Shits and Giggles

Thrilling Digressions


Starring: Mike Poplak, Ryan Kirshenblatt, Erin Gano, Stacey Wintraub.

Directed by: Joshua S. Landy

By Steven Pizzale
Gazette Staff

Rum? No thanks!

Digression is one play where the audience doesn't need a stiff drink in order to sit through it.

The characters, however, barely resist an ever-present bottle of the stuff, which offers release from an insurance scam gone hilariously wrong.

Digression quickly draws the audience in with its immediately likable characters and fast-paced action. Written by Gregory Levey, this play combines a traditional farce with the witty dialogue of a Kevin Smith film.

The play opens to a modest living room, nesting two roommates who seem to be polar opposites. Alex (Mike Poplak) is an intense Gen. X-er who channels his angst into long-winded diatribes on the historical significance of the cola wars and the logistics of Doc Brown's flux capacitor in Back to the Future.

On the other hand, Jared (Ryan Kirshenblatt) is a quiet music student whose throbbing desire is to set his sister up with his friend.

The plot begins with Alex and his friend Dominique (Erin Gano) hatching an ingenious plan to defraud an insurance company. Naturally, they must keep it from Jared at all costs. But, with all this sneaking about, Jared mistakenly suspects Alex is actually after his sister Layla (Stacey Wintraub).

Director Joshua S. Landy does an admirable job of using the Old Factory Theatre's cozy space to his advantage. Landy makes the audience feel like they are seated on a sofa opposite the stage by using the theatre doors as the doors to the apartment.

One of the play's only downfalls is that the action often moves from fast-paced banter to awkward silences with just one player onstage. The momentum the players do an amazing job of building is lost when the script calls for them to exit the stage, causing breaks in the flow of action.

In the second act, the actors heat things up in a brilliant near-miss scene involving Alex and Jared, which Landy expertly choreographed to timed perfection.

In the stunning climax, all the miscommunication and confusion that had been simmering is brought to a furious boil. Just as all the fog clears, the audience is finally granted the release they have been waiting for.

Digression plays today at 1 p.m., and 8 p.m. and at 8:30 p.m.. tomorrow night at the Old Factory Theatre (140 Ann St). Tickets are $10 for students and $12 for general admission. Call 661-2111 ext. 82634 for more ticket info.

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Copyright The Gazette 2002