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Toronto Star Review Tiny Dynamite

Review by Bruce Demara, Entertainment Writer
Troubled Triangle by The Lake
3 / 4 Stars


The North American premiere of TINY DYNAMITE, an enigmatic, often elliptical play from British author Abi Morgan, has plenty of spark and power to share.

It centres on two men, friends since childhood, both scarred (one literally, by a bolt of lighting at age 6) and left troubled by their past.

Lucien (played by Steven McCarthy) is a repressed and tightly wound risk analyst who every summer picks up his old friend, Anthony, off the city's mean streets for a vacation reprieve in the country.

But this summer is different; they soon meet Madeleine, a store clerk who delivers groceries to their lake retreat and who happens to bear a striking resemblance to a woman both men knew and loved, with tragic consequences.

The eternal triangle is discovered and the story follows the unfolding and tempestuous relationship.

Robin Fisher's set of aged uneven plans is transformed variously from a cottage interior to an outside deck to a dock, with tautly strung wires overhead echoing the buzz of sizzling electricity.

Unfortunately, the set changes require the actors to hump around in near darkness moving parts back and forth, as well as discarding and replacing props. This is an unfortunate distraction, but given the limitations of Tarragon's Extra Space, necessary.

But the show shines in all technical respects. An opening flash of electricity startles the audience as the show opens, giving an abrupt comeuppance to idle chatters and seizing our attention.

Both sound (crickets, distant loons calling, etc) and lighting cues (daylight and dappled moonlight) are razor-sharp and the stagecraft behind the many simulated dips in the lake is truly impressive.

The three performances are also uniformly strong. Trowbridge, as Anthony, is particularly strong as a deeply troubled man who refuses to be pitied or patronized. At times, his faraway eyes and long silences express madness better than mere words.

McCarthy as the risk-averse Lucien has a tougher job; he's less sympathetic initially in seeking to protect his friend. But his particular torment is expressed just as effectively.

Perrie Olthuis, in her first professional role, carries her share of the load as a self-described "restless" young woman moving from job to job and place to place with no clear idea of where she'll end up.

It is in the coming together of these three conflicted and damaged souls that the hope of redemption lies.

Director Ashlie Corcoran deserves high praise for delivering a satisfying and solid package, especially with a script full of illusion and mystery that leaves the audience aching for revelation to come sooner than it ultimately does.

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