• Joe Szekeres

Review: 'The Replica' 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: Shawn Rocheleau Performer: Shelagh Hughes Carlini

By Joe Szekeres, Supervisory Toronto Critic for On Stage Blog

To conclude its’ One Voice Project of four short plays by Andrew Biss, Theatre Aurora presents ‘The Replica’, an uncomfortable dramatic monologue of what is billed as “an abused wife who reflects on her past and deconstructs the emergence of the replica that now haunts her present.”

Yes, at times, this story is extremely uncomfortable to hear the abuse this woman endures but Shelagh Hughes Carlini handles the subject material confidently. There were some stern matter of fact of truth moments that bothered me as to why this woman would not report her husband to the police for spousal abuse. And there were times where I was applauding why this Woman behaved like she did. (I’m trying not to give spoilers here).

Ms. Carlini is in clear control of her performance every minute thanks to careful direction by Shawn Rocheleau. I especially liked the juxtaposition of the, at times, rather cavalier description of the state of this Woman’s marital relationship (or lack thereof) between she and her unseen husband, Carl, but she colourfully painted for me a picture of a horrid man who only wants a trophy wife replica of the ‘perfect woman’ to parade about through business dinners and violent sexual lovemaking.

Throughout the approximate 26-minute monologue, Ms. Carlini does not leave her makeup table equipped with various products of eye shadow, eye liner and creams of all sorts. There is a makeup mirror to her right on the table. What is effective about her performance is Ms. Carlini’s natural use of reaching for various products while she is speaking directly to the audience. I was on every word she was delivering to us, and the prop was used effectively in the moment. Good stuff.

I’m not sure if this connection to the script is intentional or not, but I couldn’t help but think of author Ira Levin’s story ‘The Stepford Wives’ (1975 novel and first film, not the stupid second one). As the woman, Ms. Carlini is smartly dressed, coiffed, ‘made up’, and very attractive at the top of the production. As the Woman begins to remove her make up and the story’s tone turns very dark and horrific, there are moments where Ms. Carlini’s subtly shows that tinge of sadness in her eyes, much like the audience saw in the eyes of the character Joanna at the end of the first film. (sorry for that spoiler alert). For me, Ms. Carlini nicely played with the use of eyes and entire face to indicate many of the emotions she was experiencing while she had to live with her imbecilic husband who deserved to be carted off to prison.

I applaud Theatre Aurora for taking this opportunity to focus on strong performances of the spoken word through the one act play format. Cost to view any of these four one acts for 72 hours is $5. Click


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