Review: 'A Small Act of Vandalism' by Andrew Biss
Presented by Theatre Aurora and The One Voice Project
Executive Producers: Sergio Calderone and Neill Kernohan
Production Design: Sergio Calderone
Lighting Design: David Buffham
Technical Design: Neill Kernohan
Director: Kay Valentine Performer: Cam Lund
By Joe Szekeres, Supervisory Toronto Critic for On Stage Blog
Theatre Aurora has taken its ‘One Voice’ Project to a new performance level height of intensity in Episode 3 ‘A Small Act of Vandalism’ by Andrew Biss. The theatre website describes this brief plot: “Malcolm (Cam Lund), a gentle, middle-aged soul with a troubled mind, keeps his mother’s ashes sealed in a small porcelain box. What he keeps hidden among his memories, however, isn’t so easily contained.”
Death appears to be a topic that many elect not to discuss for various reasons – it’s morbid, it’s sad, it’s frightening. Here’s the reality though, folks, death isn’t going to go away anytime. We are going to have to face it that death will strike our lives and those whom we love. We may be ready for when it happens, and we may not be ready when it happens and punches us right in the gut. Some people I know respond to such heady/emotional/ sad topics in a variety of ways – humour, sadness, comedy but one thing for certain about death. Each of us does not respond to it in the same manner as another person.
At times, ‘A Small Act of Vandalism’ is many things about death – it’s bizarre, it’s funny, it’s poignant, it’s sad and a tad frightening and alarming to enter Malcolm’s world. Because there are so many emotional peaks and valleys underscoring this nearly twenty-five-minute passionate journey, the actor playing Malcolm must control his emotional releases in such a way that it’s not way over the top where it becomes hysterical and out of control.
That’s where Director Kay Valentine kept a watchful eye in transitions to ensure appropriate emotional consistency given the situation and particular time in which Malcolm tells us about his mother. A nice touch was the moment where Ms. Valentine moves Mr. Lund from his desk to stage right in front of another camera to continue narration. It seemed like the right time to shift focus albeit briefly.
Dressed in what appears to be a dark purple sweater and black dress pants, Mr. Lund is an affable and amiable gentlemanly storyteller. I really liked his accent (I’m assuming he’s British) as it’s used to utmost advantage in his narration. With a smirk and twinkle in his eye, Mr. Lund made me like Malcolm especially as he tells us some of the funny moments he experienced with his mother many years ago.
For those of us who have lost an immediate family member (parent, sibling, child) whether expected or unexpected, there is still a fevered passion and dizzying vortex of a storm in trying to weather through what has just occurred. Mr. Lund nicely shifts and varies his vocal tonality especially in recognizing when his mother’s sickness is not going to improve anytime soon. There were a few moments where I thought Lund would break down in tears or perhaps see them well up in his eyes, but he consistently maintained his composure while letting the words in the monologue tell the story.
I don’t want to spoil the surprise elements in this monologue because there are a few that I did not see coming at all, so kudos to Ms. Valentine and Mr. Lund.
As always, Neill Kernohen and David Buffham in their respective technical and lighting designs made me believe I was in a theatre for a few moments even though I’m watching this story on a screen.
To access Theatre Aurora’s ‘The One Voice Project’, visit www.theatreaurora.com and click the link. The cost is $4.99 to access each one act for 72 hours.
The bottom right hand picture in the poster web design is Cam Lund.