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Fringe Review: Art class in session. Nude model. Please knock.

By Brenda Dunn on June 18, 2016

60 minutes | Comedy, Drama, Inter-Arts | Mature

Full disclosure: I have been to many a figure drawing class. This means that the nude model is not unfamiliar. So when the collective tension in the audience rises at lights up, my reaction is perhaps more muted than some audience members. But Fringe audiences are an adaptable bunch and there is a quick rally around the new reality that there will be a NAKED model STANDING in the middle of this stage.  Unfortunately, this initial light shock is the most poignant response the show elicits this evening.

Timothy Mott is actually a very believable figure-drawing instructor, but his enunciation is patchy and the lines are delivered hesitantly, almost apologetically. The character is pretty flat, which leaves Shawn Phillip Hunsdale’s portrayal of the “artist” looking overacted with a tragic eagerness that reads like nerves.

Taylor Howarth fares better as the model, delivering the most sincere and unaffected lines in the show. The artist character, played by Hunsdale, is fascinated and terrified by the prospect of nude modelling. The funniest moment comes when Howarth walks in on Hunsdale nearly nude in an attempt to muster the courage to volunteer to sit in an absent model’s place. His self-exposure is stark and nerve-racking where Howarth’s character is smooth and self-assured, and the synchronicity of his clumsy dress to her graceful disrobing is an eloquent bit of staging. There are moments of real chemistry between the two during the show’s quick 40 minute run time, but the end comes abruptly and I’m left feeling that we may have skipped a few salient points. This leaves the logical nudity of the model feeling like a gimmick, and the acting surrounding it looking a little forced. Hoping this is first night nerves and that they’ll all settle into their skins by next round.

Art class in session. Nude model. Please knock., Studio Léonard-Beaulne, 135 Séraphin-Marion

Tickets $12.