Sextet, Tarragon Theatre

Ken MacDonald’s functional set gives a superb cast plenty of room to roam in a story that revolves around group sex minus the group and the sex. The Tarragon Theatre presentation of ‘Sextet’ pays homage to music in exquisite whimsical style.

If all good things come in three then it can only double the pleasure if presented in six.  That is the magic number rapscallion playwright Morris Panych relies on within the confines of a hotel where half a dozen musicians come and go through an equal amount of doors that lead to the same number of beds.

On this night, a hormonal storm is setting in requiring all to take refuge in hunger, jealousy, emptiness, and prayer.

In Sextet, some want it bad while others don’t seem to want it all.  Comical tension is rising, sinful vibrations cause quite a stir and it’s anyone’s guess how these lost souls will respond to their conflicting emotion with quick entrances and even quicker exits.

Damien Atkins’ Harry carries the brunt of frustration while keeping his feelings for Matthew Edison’s Dirk under wraps.  The problem is that Dirk wants Laura Condlln’s Sylvia and what Sylvia really needs is a moment of clarity to assess her own heart’s desire.

“Love is complicated,” she asserts.

Next door, Bruce Dow’s Gerrard and Rebecca Northan’s Mavis have their own awkward predicament to sort out. The days of their open marriage appear to be numbered with Jordan Pettle’s Otto wondering if there’s any room left for himself in the non-committal equation.

Well lubricated with humour and stiff with unspoken truths that bend in all the right places, Sextet sets out to understand the mysteries of attraction and in doing so exceeds spoken word speed limits with many scenes clocking in at 15-60 seconds to deliver the laughter.

And really, no wonder why Morris Panych couldn’t resist mapping a story like this with throbbing impulse.  It’s a topic everyone talks about but not enough on the modern stage.  His acute observations which involve human longing and the mechanics of our mind push the boundaries of contemporary storytelling to reason with the bare instinct that motivates us all.

Add in a story surprise or two you can’t see coming from 10 inches away and this one will leave your heart beating much faster than when you entered the theatre.

Review by Jordan Allystair


SEXTET by Morris Panych Nov. 5 – Dec. 14, 2014 TARRAGON THEATRE, 30 Bridgman Avenue, Toronto TICKETS $29.00-$55.00 416-531-1827 CAST Damien Atkins, Laura Condlln, Bruce Dow, Matthew Edison, Rebecca Northan, Jordan Pettle DIRECTOR Morris Panych SET & COSTUMES Ken MacDonald LIGHTING Kimberly Purtell STAGE MANAGER Kate Porter