by Paula Citron
Morwyn Brebner is a golden child of Canadian theatre, but “The Pessimist”, shows a tarnished lustre. Her audacious themes, bold characters, snappy dialogue and mordant wit have become tired irritations.
The over-the-top direction of Eda Holmes makes very good actors look very bad. In this play, Holmes has resorted to stereotypes. There is no arc to their journey.
Jim Warren plays a dying theatre director whose last hurrah is a new horror/monster play set in a garbage dump of a small Ontario town. Also in the cast are his cynical wife, a mediocre playwright, a nubile leading lady, and a hapless politician. When the likes of Kristina Nicoll, Michael Healey and Graham Abbey can’t make a play work, you’ve got problems.
Brebner’s metaphoric throughline is the zombie, the undead who, supposedly, is the heroic centrepiece of Marcus’ theatrical vision. The play revolves around the undead or destructive force of relationships.
The Pessimist continues until May 27.
From the Tarragon Theatre, I’m Paula Citron, arts reviewer for CLASSICAL 96.3 FM.