Given that the company often concerns itself with the darker sentiments of human interaction, it’s been a relatively buoyant season for Theatre Network. So far, its main season’s offered up a pair of musicals, neither lacking in depth—The Last Five Years featured the full arc of a relationship, one half starting at its beginning, the other at its end, while Klondykes took a gender-bending look at the gold rush era—but not quite plumbing them for darkness, either.
Consider Gordon, then, a return to more familiar territory: the script, by Morris Panych, finds itself in an industry-derelict Hamilton. The titular would-be criminal, his pal and his girlfriend are in the midst of a break-and-enter when they encounter his father, also named Gordon. The scenario derails from there; it’s not usual sort of warm family reunion, exactly, but that’s one of the things (along with the complexity of that situation) that Ben Stevens and Patricia Cerra—both making their company debuts here—found particularly compelling.
“They all do bad things. They’re all complicated people—which I like,” Stevens notes, sitting backstage. “None of them are perfect; they’re all deeply flawed, but I can get onboard with each character. I can cheer for this one for a little while, then I can cheer for this one for a little while. I feel for all of them.”
“It’s about what you know, and where you’ve come from,” Cerra adds. “You are a product of your environment, and if you are conditioned to think a certain way, you will act a certain way—for them, what everyone is doing is right. They believe that that is the option and that is the correct one, which is so interesting. Because it throws you off your traditional train of thought.”
Which isn’t to say Gordon’s sole concern is grit: it’s a black comedy, and the actors note that playing bleak situations can bring out the deepest sort of comedy.
“The script, the way [the humour’s] been dropped in: the horror of the situation is very bizarre, but you play the honesty of the words, and that’s what makes the comedy pop,” Cerra says. “Which is so great in what Morris has done, and what makes it fun. We were talking today even, with a new energy in the [rehearsal] room, hearing a reaction at a certain moment, you’re like, ‘Oh yeah: I didn’t even realize that that could pop out as funny, when something so traumatic is happening.'”
Until Sun, May 15 (8 pm; 2 pm Sunday matinees)
Directed by Bradley Moss
The Roxy on Gateway, $24 – $30