by Paula Citron
In his “East End Plays”, George F. Walker writes about neighbourhoods of urban decay and dysfunctional families, yet his dark socio-political message is always blunted by droll humour and a penchant for human quirkiness. For a Walker play to really work, its rich language has to zing along with almost Shavian zest. There is good news and bad news with “Escape From Happiness”.
Written in 1991, the play is the sequel to 1985’s “Better Living”. At the heart of both are the fey mother Nora (Clare Coulter) and her three contrary daughters. In the sequel the women are literally caught between cops and robbers.
The problem with “Escape From Happiness” is finding that right balance between pathos and farce. Towards the end, director Ken Gass seems to lose control. Nonetheless, the production has energy to burn and some fine performances which carry the day. Shawn Kerwin’s wonderfully dilapidated set radiates cockroaches.
Escape From Happiness continues during the Luminato Festivaluntil Jun. 17.
From Factory Theatre, I’m Paula Citron, arts reviewer for CLASSICAL 96.3 FM.