Brave and young, and full of pomp and vigour, Magalie Rouillard-Bazinet has taken on a brief but fiery piece by Emil Sher, Sanctuary, with Théatre Français de Toronto.
“June goes to the park early every Saturday morning to spend time alone. On this particular Saturday, she reaches her secret spot, and is shocked to find a man drawing the surrounding, beautiful scenery. Although, Philip isn’t just there to sketch. He’s there to introduce himself. Two paths fiercely collide and tell a touching and unexpected story.”
Indeed the story was both touching and unexpected, but before an emotional roller coaster could be fired along the rails at break-neck speed, the audience was introduced to a fancy, phrenetic, and funny Magalie, more than happy to extol the virtues…or at least values of her supercharged sex life in an incomparable slam-rant-stand-up routine that made the audience, however intimate, gape and guffah.
Bazinet held captive the respectfully quiet audience by the proverbial short hairs, and made some enlightening points about love, sex, and humanity.
To the purpose though, Sanctuary was an emotional powder-keg that perhaps went off too early.
A neurotic push from the top by Trish Rainone – perfect for the character – sent her and her counterpart, Rufio Parker, into a headlong dash for the finish. The very few moments of silence in the piece were spectacular, and not because the actors were silent, but because there was time taken for the audience to experience the truth in these complex characters, and not only that, but there was clarity in the relationship between the two of them, and their own understanding of themselves and each other.
Rainone has a grand physicality that she hardly needs thanks to the telling truth in her piercing eyes, and Parker’s sincerity reads in his puppy-dog eyes, for sure, but much more in his hesitant movement about the stage. These two actors shine in a fantastical reenactment of a dark secret of Rainone’s character, June; with perfect blue top-lighting to bring the audience along for the frigid foray.
Technically, the show was bare-bones, and minimalist; just the way I love to see theatre, but with a few technical issues, especially regarding the phone used for the pre-show mix becoming a hindrance in terms of phone calls un-silenced, and bluetooth disconnections announced mid ambient track play; the soundscape, in principle though, works wonders to set the stage. Perhaps throwing a lighter out to the audience may be a bit of a faux pas, and I’m not sure that you can successfully burn paper in an urn once the lid is secured seconds after ignition, but aside from these safety, and stingy points, the show raced on without obstacle.
Or should I say that the one obstacle is that it did indeed race? Coming back to this point is the crux of the play. These separately neurotic characters, alone in a park, pouring out their souls, one to the other, in frantic desperation in order to find love, wholeness; meaning, is indeed, to my eyes and ears, the very plot, but desperation need not always be accompanied by speed.
Bazinet has set up a wonderfully simplistic, humourous, harrowing, and engaging piece, and both Rainone, and Parker carry it forward with the requisite intensity, but this intensity; this engagement can most certainly take its time. Running at maybe thirty minutes, the audience hardly is introduced to the characters before we must say goodbye. Give us forty five minutes; take the time for us, and the characters to really delve into the grit, and the reality of the ridiculous situations in which both characters have found themselves. An audience will wait for discovery, just so long as they can share in the discovery as well, which Rainone and Parker are absolutely more than capable of ensuring.
The brevity of the show may sway some from the seemingly steep cost, but it’s clear both actors could go the distance, if given enough time (and clearly can hit certain heights with what little time was given), and their director/producer/comedian-poet, is certainly a force to be reckoned with, and will most assuredly continue to do wonderful things. All we have in this world is time, so why not let’s spend it delving deep, and slaking our desires and discoveries with the time we are able to have; Bazinet most certainly has the time at her disposal, and I believe will use it in a productive fire of fearlessness, to create adventurous art.
Check out the site HERE for details on times and tickets; the show runs until Saturday.