Opened Sept. 24, 1997, at Theatre Passe Muraille Backspace. Reviewed Sept. 25; 65 seats; C$ 24 ($ 17) top. Running time: 75 MIN.
Cast: Randy Hughson (George), Lisa Ryder (Joyce), Jim Warren (Berkley), Jamie Williams (Williams), Chris Earle (Penfield).
Director Daniel Brooks, long associated with the fringe edges of Toronto’s theater, is a perfect choice for John Mighton’s “Possible Worlds,” filling gaps in an economical narrative and jibing with the playwright’s scientific radicalism.
With writing that is deceptively light and comic, the play involves a gruesome string of murders in which the victims’ brains are removed. Through a series of short, clipped scenes, Mighton takes on predetermined notions of time, dimension and scientific morality.
The play could be a disaster in the hands of a director who ignores the fine balance between story and theory, but is delicately handled by Brooks, who concentrates on the central character of a murder victim (Randy Hughson). Able to exist in several dimensions at once, the doomed man replays different relationships with the same woman (Lisa Ryder as Joyce) over and over, remembering every detail of all his concurrent lives while she is firmly rooted in the here and now.
Brooks brings a fully realized vision to his work while respecting the material, the black set slashed with geometric washes of hot white light. A soundscape (by Richard Feren) enhances the many blackouts.
Despite the balance between substance and style, however, there are moments that suggest the play’s themes could be more satisfyingly fleshed out.