Safdie’s Gratitude explores
adolescent coming of age
A tale of how an innocent crush snowballs into a life-changing moment…
By Byron Toben
Oren Safdie is at it again. The Montreal born playwright, author of some 13 plays, is back from warmer points south to present his latest, Gratitude.
Viewers may recall two of his earlier works, both staged by Infinitheatre, which examined sexual abuse in the clothing industry (Unseemly) and terrorism in Israel (Mr. Goldberg Goes to Tel Aviv).
Gratitude involves teenage students at a tony private High School. This is a time when hormones oft play a major role in behaviour and such is the case here.
Fifteen-year old-Dariya (Michaela Di Cesare) seems to be acting the opposite of Me Too-ers in aggressively enticing three male co-students. They are jock stud Drew (Patrick Keeler), rich kid comic Josh (Laurent Pitre) and Ben (Patrick Emmanuel Abellard). All four of these young actors have excellent local success.
Thus the cast is experienced beyond what you might ordinarily find in the intimate Mainline Theatre studio space (35 seats).
As in the 1907 theatre classic Spring Awakening, adolescent coming of age is featured. As in La Ronde (1897), relationships shift from one character to another. Add to these eternal themes a soupçon of Lewinsky lore. And we have a play that in lesser hands might have devolved into a parody or farce.
However, gratitudes invoked for favours rendered become demands as the plot thickens and near soft porn escalates into tragedy.
Well co-directed by Mr Safdie and Mainline chief Amy Blackmore, who also choreographed movements.
Gratitude continues at the Mainline Theatre until December 2.
Images: courtesy Mainline Theatre
Byron Toben is the immediate past-president of the Montreal Press Club.