Review: Everyman

(Photo: Hayley Frail)

(Photo: Hayley Frail)

The KTS’s production of Everyman screams of the holy trinity to the sound of Mladic by God Speed You! Black Emperor. The play takes a classic script from the 16th century and thrusts it, largely unaltered, into modern theatre.

The story follows Everyman (Katie Lawrence) as she is confronted by Death (Ezra Tennen) and must find someone, or something, to vouch for her before God, so she can get into heaven. This proves agonizing for Everyman, as she’s pushed so much away in life that she struggles to get Fellowship (Eddie Cuevas), her Kindred Cousin (Melina Zaccaria) and Knowledge (Emma Doig) to join her in the afterlife.

Directors David Woroner and Ethan Speigel’s choice of set is minimal, but used well. Upon entering the theatre, the audience faces the cold image of a white hospital room. Everyman lays motionless under the covers on the left side of the bed, between a grey metal chair and an IV holding clear fluid. Three walls make up the hospital room. They close off the scene which makes it feel claustrophobic. The set appears simplistic, confined to this sickly hospital room. But after the opening scene the walls open to create a three-paneled spread, which serves as the backdrop for the middle of the play. The middle panel is removed as the production spirals towards its ending.

(Photo: Hayley Frail)

(Photo: Hayley Frail)

Lawrence is a force of pure, brute emotion in her role as Everyman. Her performance, though emotional, feels real and flows with the rest of the play. Her tears are not misplaced and her anger is justified. She’s been made a plaything of Death, and the audience can feel her anguish in shivers crawling up their spine as she shrieks out to God for mercy. She bleeds urgency in her attempt to enter Heaven as her defining traits abandon her. Who will go with her?

Tennen’s portrayal of Death is unsettling and unpredictable. His performance is alive and animated, far from the solemn role often attributed to Death. Tennen opposes tradition, turning death into a cabaret host in hysterics. He stalks Everyman for the duration of the play with an eerie smile, following her movements with wild eyes.

(Photo: Hayley Frail)

(Photo: Hayley Frail)

The use of the projector in the production is hit or miss. The projection of the side effects of medication added to the impact and power of Everyman’s first monologue. However, there were two instances in the play where a crooked image of a fire appeared. It barely projected onto the centre panel, skimming the top of it. This didn’t subtract from the overall enjoyment of the production, but did raise questions as to its purpose.

The play deals with heavy subject matter, but uses comedy to its advantage. Though sparse and subtle, the comedy allows the audience an occasional breather before returning to contemplations of morality and loss.

The opening scene, as far as comedy is concerned, is a high point in the production. God (Cameron VanBuskirk) is portrayed as a screaming baby. His costume is complete with a diaper, baby rattle and bunny hat. That’s it! He stomps around angrily, at times intensely approaching audience members, provoking laughter while also putting the play in motion.

The production is gripping from start to finish. The cast feeds off each other’s energy, creating a powerful and tense performance. The play is short, and even though the producers (Hannah MacDougall and Katrina Jones) inform the audience at the beginning that there’s no intermission, you leave wishing there was a second act.