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Evaluation: Workshop West's thriller MOB sticks with you

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Thriller thrillers — lengthy a shivering staple of paperbacks and flicks — have a stunning resonance on stage, when expertly executed. Right here in Edmonton, a few of the performs that follow me nonetheless are of that style, equivalent to Trevor Schmidt’s We Had a Lady Earlier than You (at Northern Mild Theatre in 2022), Anthony Shaffer’s Sleuth (on the Mayfield Dinner Theatre in 2019) and The Pillowman (on the Citadel by the use of Martin McDonagh in 2006/07).

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MOB (at Workshop West’s Gateway Theatre till Nov. 12) is a type of productions. It’s laborious to shake lengthy after you allow the theatre. I can’t say I loved the play; it’s too unsettling for that. But it surely raises a number of questions which will contribute to slight nausea on the best way residence within the automobile.

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MOB opens on Sophie (Kristin Johnston), who has misplaced her job in an undisclosed however clearly traumatic vogue. She arrives at a distant mattress and breakfast with a small, white suitcase in hand (the set design by Beyata Hackborn is stark and glossy, with little to melt the laborious edges of the play). The marginally infirm and aged Louise (Davina Stewart) runs the inn with the assistance of her nephew Martin (Graham Mothersill).

The uneasy relationship between Louise and Martin has Psycho-like overtones (purely coincidental, says playwright Catherine-Anne Toupin in a 2020 interview with the Montreal Gazette, whereas admitting a devotion to Hitchcock). Louise and Martin are disturbing characters, off-kilter from the beginning in an “oh, I’m certain will probably be nice” kind of means.

But it surely’s not nice. Under no circumstances. It’s inconceivable to say extra with out making a gift of an excessive amount of of the plot. However quickly, the viewers finds itself caught up in a dance between cat and mouse during which the ability shifts between Martin and Sophie as stakes ratchet ever larger.

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MOB was first written in French and debuted in Montreal in 2018. Later, Chris Campbell translated the one-act, which made a short however heralded look at Centaur Theatre because the pandemic dawned. Workshop West’s manufacturing, directed by Heather Inglis, is MOB’s western Canadian premiere.

Whereas the play shows a strong and generally excruciating physicality, it’s very a lot a head recreation that’s rooted in language. MOB poses questions on using phrases as weapons within the web age, placing a deceive the previous “stick and stones” mantra. Certainly, language destroys in MOB and the viewers can really feel its poisonous grip from the early moments of the present, which see Sophie replaying snippets of dialogue by a sleepless evening. Johnston performs these phrases like a jagged poem or music; they’re sand in your eyes. An enormous display, damaged into small, chessboard-like squares, consumes the again of the black-box stage and shows the tightly targeted faces of Louise and Martin to super impact originally and finish of the play. Lighting designer Alison Yanota’s flickering impact creates ongoing anxiousness.

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The characters are complicated in MOB, notably Martin. In a gripping portrayal by Mothersill, Martin is by turns child-like and threatening, seemingly assured whereas simply manipulated. He’s {the teenager} again in highschool that you simply thought may not make it. Sophie is wounded however positive factors floor because the manufacturing proceeds. Poor Louise, just like the viewers, hardly is aware of what to make of all of it till the gut-busting conclusion of the play.

MOB poses many questions, however presents no solutions. We see how individuals proceed to harm one another, utilizing new expertise to promulgate previous hatreds. Behind all of it is…why? Even Shakespeare struggled with that one. Maybe a query for one more day, one other play.

Evaluation

MOB, introduced by Workshop West Playwrights’ Theatre, by Catherine-Anne Toupin, with translation by Chris Campbell

Director Heather Inglis

That includes Kristin Johnston, Graham Mothersill, Davina Stewart

The place Gateway Theatre, 8529 Gateway Blvd.

When Till Nov. 12 at 7:30 p.m.

Tickets Beginning at $32 at workshopwest.org or by calling 780-477-5955

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