Regional Reviews: San Francisco
A Greatly Entertaining Production of
MacIvor, who has been described as Canada's true creative genius, is an actor, director and playwright. In On It first premiered in the United States Off-Broadway in 2001 and won the Obie Award in 2002. The playwright played one of the roles.
In On It is a spiraling narrative about a dying man trying to make plans for the end, a pair of lovers trying to make it work, and two men writing the play to make this ingenious play-within-a-play work. The playwright successfully breaks all of the rules of legitimate theatre by deconstructing the play, with the two actors giving a stimulating interplay on a bare stage with their thoughts, togetherness and the clever bantering between them about the play within the play.
In On It's opening gives an idea of what the audience can expect for the next 120 minutes as we see a gray suit jacket lying crumpled on the floor. The entire band box theatre is in total darkness with the exception of an overhead spotlight lighting up the coat. This coat becomes the centerpiece of the sharp dialogue between the two actors as they pass off the jacket to one another. We discover these two actors are writing a play about a dying man planning for his demise. The playwrights have many complaints on how the play is going and they in turn swap the coat to play characters in the play within the play. MacIvor's writing is ingenious and fresh and there is a certain amount of Bertolt Brecht in the interchange between the two actors. The playwright's intent on this piece is that the audience is "in on it" and this is made very clear with the amazing acting of Glenn Peters and Ian Scott McGregor.
Glenn Peters (Off-Broadway credits include Turn of the Screw, Murder by Poe, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Richard III) and Ian Scott McGregor (Family Butchers, The Opposite of Sex, The 13 Hallucinations of Julio Rivera at Magic Theatre) are a perfect match as they effectively confront each other's strengths and weaknesses on the script of the play within the play. They work with an airiness that is amazing to watch. No screaming or overacting from these two superb actors. Both work on a bare stage with just two chairs. This tour de force of acting keeps the audience glued to their seats. One could only wish the plan would not end so soon.
In On It has a wonderful little "party dance" by the two to the Leslie Gore pop song "Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows" that is a shear delight, and we also hear snippets of great Callas arias throughout the progress of the play. In On It is an immensely entertaining play
In On It plays at The Thick House, 1695 18th Street between Arkansas and Deharo, San Francisco through February 26. For tickets please call 415-821-4849 or visit www.Encoretheatrecompany.org.