Review by Devan Marr
55 mins / Dark Comedy / PG
Much like the patients in group therapy, Preshrunk needs a little bit of work.
Preshunk opens with our band of patients filing into their weekly group session. You have Lenn, the rude, salacious firefighter with PTSD. He’s followed by, Jack, the high-strung germaphobe with a secret. Then there’s Susan, with her self esteem problems who always says yes. Lastly, in comes Antoine the suave French businessman with money and family troubles, and newcomer Barb, who’s in denial about her painkiller addiction. It’s quite the assortment – and to top it off, one of them is a murderer!
I felt the real strength in this play came from the individual actors rather than the production as a whole. I was especially impressed by the characters of Jack and Antoine. I liked Jack because he was so committed to the role of a neurotic oddball that you could have just called him Sheldon Cooper and called it a day. His discomfort from Lenn tormenting him and Susan’s flirting was so palpable you could cut it with a knife, and it inspired a few chuckles from the nearly sold out crowd.
Antoine is another story all together. With his meticulously parted hair and his superfluous cane, he is the group’s James Bond. Suave and well put together, at first you’re not quite sure why he’s there. As the play continues and each character has one-on-one time with the audience, you get to dig a little under the polished surface and his unfortunate situation is revealed.
The interplay between these two characters alone is definitely worth the price of admission, in my opinion.
Preshrunk is not a bad play by any stretch of the imagination. It has witty dialogue and interesting characters, but I feel like it fell into a weird place where the writer had too much going on and not enough time to resolve it all. The ‘whodunit’ premise gets a rushed, abrupt ending, leaving you with a ‘wait, what?’ feeling that overrides the overall connection the play was trying to establish between the various characters’ plights. There is a lot of good dialogue and potential for a more nuanced piece but my admittedly knee-jerk reaction is that the script needs its own group session.
My overall opinion of the show? Come for the play, stay for the actors.
Preshrunk by Alana Kainz is playing at Venue 5 – Studio Leonard-Beaulne (135 Seraphin-Marion, University of Ottawa) on Thursday, June 16 at 11:00pm; Saturday, June 18 at 2:00pm; Sunday, June 19 at 8:00pm; Tuesday, June 21 at 5:30pm; Saturday, June 25 at 9:30pm; and Sunday, June 26 at 2:00pm.