Theatre review: Convoluted comedy crashes

Reviewer fails to find humour in 'hilarious' and 'harrowing' Ramifications of a Particular Crash

Ramifications of a Particular Crash

At GO Studios (112 East Third Ave.) until June 15

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Tickets: ramifications.brownpapertickets.com

Why playwright Kris Elgstrand thought the aftermath of the vehicular death of a teenager would be fodder for comedy is anybodys guess. But apparently the opening night crowd laughed themselves silly.

The play opens with Hollywood starlet Aimee (Lara Gilchrist) sneaking into the home of Paul (Brad Dryborough), Joyce (Lori Triolo) and their 15-year-old daughter Jodi (Maxine Chadburn). Three years ago Aimee hit and killed Jennifer, the couples other teenager who was out at night walking down the middle of the road in her bare feet. There was an out-of-court settlement, but Aimee now wants Paul and Joyces forgiveness and shes come to get it.

What she finds is a family in complete meltdown. Joyce, looking like a hag from hell, has gone completely around the bend and is medicated to the eyeballs. Rebellious, out-of-control Jodi is also using drugs and alcohol and she has lost all respect for her mother, repeatedly calling her a crazy f*****g bitch. Nice.

Paul, the father, is the only sane one left in the family. He goes off to work each day and returns home to this madhouse.

But heres the thing: Aimee is a drug and alcohol addicted, self-absorbed, not very bright flake. Shes pregnant, she tells Jodi, and when Jodi asks, Whose is it? Aimee, bright-eyed, answers, Mine. Duh. She cant remember how much booze shed imbibed or what drugs shed taken the night of the accident but she remembers dragging Jennifer for a a f*****g block. Gilchrist gives it her best shot but there is absolutely nothing and I mean nothing to like in this character.

Chadburn comes off better as an obscenity-spouting teenager. At least we can find a shred of sympathy for this kid whose family has fallen apart. Its a toxic environment and she should get out of there but not with Aimee. The girl has lost her sister and no one seems to notice theres still a teenager in the house who needs love and guidance. But the playwright makes it really difficult to sustain our connection when Jodi, after discovering Aimee in the house, asks enthusiastically, Have you f****d a bunch of famous guys? I just wanna know who youre f*****g. When the answer isnt forthcoming, Jodi suggests, Lets get wasted and off they go, like old buddies, to get drunk. It really is a stretch to think that under these peculiar circumstances the first time Jodi has met Aimee outside the courtroom that this would be how it would go.

And did I mention the frequency of the f word? Eighty minutes of it is bo-ring.

Triolo does her best and, elsewhere, her best is often great to make this look like a comedy. Theres lots of physicality in her performance; theres even a scene in which her husband sits on her to keep her still. Arms and legs flailing, it could be funny in some other play.

Dryborough, at least, gets to play the only reasonable character on stage, and I cant tell you what a relief it is.

Directed by Martin Kinch, Ramifications of a Particular Crash is billed as the hilariously harrowing story of what happens when Americas Sweetheart Aimee Scott pays a surprise visit to the family of the teenaged girl she killed in a car accident three years earlier. That should have been the tip-off right there: hilarious in combination with harrowing. Chalk and cheese.

Developed by the Playwrights Theatre Centre and the Banff Playwrights Colony and presented by Raw Materials Co-op, Ramifications of a Particular Crash may tickle the funny bone of some but it missed mine by a mile. The curtain comes down on When You Wish Upon A Star. Huh?

For more reviews, go to joledingham.ca.

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