Note: the play has content advisories about adult subject matter, adult language and sexual content, and has one scene of male nudity.
TotoToo Theatre has gifted Ottawa with a superlative production of Brad Fraser’s Love and Human Remains. Every aspect—the script, the direction, the acting, the technical staging—is exemplary.
This is all the more remarkable because, as the director, Chantale Plante, writes in her program notes, “The cross-pollination of non-realism and realism make it a challenge for any director to stage.”
The bare bones of Fraser’s script are that failed actor David (Bradley Sykes) is now working as a waiter and sharing an apartment with his flakey friend Candy (Victoria Luloff), whom he dated before coming out as gay. David’s callow bus boy, Kane (Alex Henkelman), is smitten with him, in part because, years ago, David was a child star on a TV show. David has a complicated relationship with his nasty friend Bernie (Sébastien Dijkstra). Candy is desperate for love and dabbling in both heterosexual and homosexual affairs—the former with buff Robert (Axandre Lemours), the latter with needy Jerri (Kirby Naftel). And then there’s David’s friend Benita (Joanna McDougall), a psychic sex worker with a penchant for nightmarish tales and BDSM. All the while, a serial murderer is preying on young women, leaving a trail of mutilated bodies around the city.
All the while, a serial murderer is preying on young women, leaving a trail of mutilated bodies around the city.
The various tensions which build during the play are relieved, slightly, by touches of humour. One of the things that seemed to tickle the opening night audience’s fancy was the inclusion of references to Ottawa locales such as Strathcona Park, the Dominion Tavern and Colonnade Pizza in the script.
There were ripples of laughter after witty lines, particularly between David and Kane. David opines dryly that he “find(s) being a waiter more artistically satisfying,” but later complains of the drama he endures when people order Thousand Island dressing to put on their Caesar salads.
Kane says yearningly, “I want to be 25! I’ll understand stuff better!” When Kane says, “so you’re gay?” David whips back with “not professionally!” And when David mentions where he grew up, Kane exclaims, “You’re from Navan and you’re a homo?!”
But Fraser and Plante never let the audience forget the threat of violence hanging over the women, particularly over Candy.
As the lights went up at the end of the harrowing second act, the opening night audience leapt to its feet to give the cast a well-deserved standing ovation.
If you’re willing to take a walk on the wild side, be sure to see Love and Human Remains.
TotoToo Theatre’s production of Brad Fraser’s Love and Human Remains is playing at The Gladstone Theatre until March 16. The evening performances start at 7:30pm. There are also matinees on Saturdays at 2:30pm. The performance is approximately two hours long, including one intermission. Note that the play has content advisories about adult subject matter, adult language and sexual content, and has one scene of male nudity. Audience members should be over the age of 18 and comfortable with extremely mature material. Information and tickets at available at online and at The Gladstone’s box office.