From the moment the lights went off and the rock n’ roll started blaring, you knew you were in for an exciting night of theatre.
Lee MacDougal’s High Life is back in Toronto and graces the stage at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts in the Distillery.
High Life has been celebrated and performed world wide with six productions in Japan alone and having been made into a movie. It follows an unlikely band of drug addicts trying to pull off “the perfect crime.” A truly Canadian theatrical performance, it is directed by Soulpepper Founding Member Stuart Hughes and also features Founding Members Michael Hanrahan and Diego Matamoros.
Most of the play takes place in Dick’s (Diego Matamoros) sparse dwelling, with the various players coming in and out as we get to know them bit by bit through short, to the point scenes.
First visitor straight out of jail, is career criminal, gruff, Bug (Michael Hanrahan). Dick seems to be Bug’s closest, if not only, friend. We quickly see Dick live up to his moniker as he sucks Bug into his latest get-rich criminal scheme and hit him up with a shot of morphine.
We learn more about the scheme and the various characters through subsequent scenes. Perhaps the strongest role of the evening was played by Oliver Dennis as Donnie, a very convincing hypochondriac, small time, easily duped criminal. The nervous edge to his voice coupled with his precise body language makes his character the most believable.
Mike Ross’ Billy, was at first, the least convincing. His body language had a bit too much swagger, but as you see how addicted to the morph he is, and that he is willing to score it any way he can by using his youthful sexuality with both men and woman, you perhaps suspend that disbelief a little.
Matamoros’ Dick had the most flat character. Yes, he was the mastermind and puppeteer of the bunch of cons, but he seemed to be aimless and it was never quite clear why his friends all seemed to look to him as their leader.
On opening night there was an unexpected interruption to the show and to the actors’ great credit, they were able to get right back on stage as if they hadn’t missed a beat. We’ve seen or heard of actors being frazzled by less harrowing circumstances.
The scenes get a little longer as the play wears on, but it works to wonderful effect as it makes one feel as though they are going through the paranoia of the players alongside them until the heightened climax.
High Life is a cuss word, drug fuelled, rock n’ rolling good time.
High Life runs through March 28.
For tickets or more info visit: http://soulpepper.ca/