×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Monster

Daniel MacIvor and Daniel Brooks have gazed deep into the midnight of the soul, and the view is anything but pretty.

Daniel MacIvor and Daniel Brooks have gazed deep into the midnight of the soul, and the view is anything but pretty.

In this, the third in a series of one-man shows, MacIvor and Brooks have moved into the horror genre currently pulsing through both film and theater, and “from that darkness come I, a young man who hacks his father to death limb by limb and tucks the parts into a box labeled ‘some assembly required.’ ”

But unlike so many other toilers in the genre, MacIvor and Brooks want to do more than deliver shock theater; they try to grapple with why such evil exists. A carefully built story that travels through generations of abuse and highlights the social rejection of those who are different, “Monster” combines chills with analysis. This, along with a great sense of style, is what makes MacIvor and Brooks’ work special.

MacIvor single-handedly portrays not only the warring couple who later become the parents of the kid who kills his dad, but the slasher himself and a roomful of characters at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. What’s so compelling is the way in which he digs deep into the psyche of each one, and with a deft verbal or physical stroke, the characters spring to life fully formed. The economy of both the writing and performance bring to mind an artist who creates an expressive face on paper with a single line or two.

During the 80 minutes of “Monster,” except for one moment when MacIvor goes off to fetch his only prop, a highball glass, he remains rooted to one spot on the stage. Quick shifts of light by Andy Moro and an atmospheric sound score by Richard Feren, as well as shifts in body weight and gestures such as the rolling up of his sleeves, are all thetools MacIvor uses. If nothing else, this is a cleansing antidote for spectacle theater, all the more so because the technical work is sophisticated without being showy.

“Monster” begins by turning the theater into a movie house. Out of the darkness, an amplified voice urges the audience to “ssshhh” because the film is about to begin. Suddenly MacIvor emerges in a stark angular white light to harangue the audience. The emotional connections drawn between this abuse directed at viewers and that suffered by the slasher kid in the play is just one example of the brilliant way in which the playwrights remind their audience that the horror is real.

In the same way, the framework of the film in the opening moments later evolves into a storyline in which one of the characters sells a script whose climax is the murder of the father. Tiny plot threads are constantly dropped and then carefully picked up and woven back in, so that by the end there is a satisfying sense of completion.

But maybe the most impressive achievement of all is that MacIvor and Brooks have created a work packaged in contemporary thrill-and-chill sensibilities without succumbing to the genre themselves: “Monster” is a frightening look into the jaws of hell, but it also offers a place from which to begin scrambling out. And oh, yes, it’s occasionally very funny.

Monster

(DRAMA; CANADIAN STAGE CO. DOWNSTAIRS THEATRE;241 SEATS; C$ 20 ($ 16) TOP)

Production: TORONTO A da da kamera presentation of a play in one act written and directed by Daniel MacIvor and Daniel Brooks and performed by MacIvor. Music and sound, Richard Feren; technical direction and co-design, Andy Moro. Opened April 21, 1998. Reviewed April 22. Running time: 1 HOUR, 20 MIN.

More Film

  • Avengers: Endgame

    'Avengers: Endgame' First Reactions: 'Most Emotional, Most Epic MCU Film'

    The end is finally here. “Avengers: Endgame” had its world premiere Monday night at the Los Angeles Convention Center and reactions on social media from fans, journalists and critics are already pouring in. The reaction has so far been almost universally positive, with several commentors warning fans of the movie’s emotional elements. Brandon Davis wrote [...]

  • Josh Brolin, Kathryn Boyd. Josh Brolin,

    'Avengers: Endgame's' Josh Brolin: Thanos' Butt Is a 'Beautiful, Purple Peach'

    On the eve of “Avengers: Endgame’s” world premiere, everyone’s thoughts have turned to the one crucial detail that could be the difference between life or death for the Avengers: Does Thanos have a butt? “I don’t know what that whole thing is about! I really don’t!” Josh Brolin, who plays Thanos, told Variety‘s Marc Malkin [...]

  • Tessa Thompson'Avengers: Endgame' Film Premiere, Arrivals,

    'Avengers: Endgame's' Tessa Thompson Says Valkyrie Would Spoon Captain Marvel, Thor

    Tessa Thompson, who plays Valkyrie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and upcoming “Avengers: Endgame,” had no problem addressing speculation about the character’s sexuality at the “Endgame” red carpet premiere Monday. The “Sorry to Bother You” actress explained that she played her Marvel character as bisexual. “In the canon, [Valkyrie] is bisexual. You see her with [...]

  • WGA Agency Packaging Fight Placeholder Writer

    Writers Guild Says Over 7,000 Members Have Fired Agents

    Over 7,000 members of the Writers Guild of America have fired their talent agents, the Hollywood union said on Monday. As promised, the guild delivered a first round of termination letters to agents in a show of support for the WGA’s full-on war with the Association of Talent Agents. “Today the Guild delivered a first [...]

  • BRAZILIAN FLAGFRENCH OPEN TENNIS, PARIS, FRANCE

    Brazil’s Ancine Freezes Incentives, Threatening Film-TV Industry Paralysis

    Brazil’s Ancine agency, its foremost public-sector source of film funding, has frozen all of its incentive programs, potentially near paralyzing new production in Latin America’s biggest film-TV industry. The dramatic decision, which has left Brazil’s industry is a state of shock and intense fear for its future, comes as it has taken further hits. In [...]

  • Jennifer Lopez

    Jennifer Lopez Reteams With STXfilms on Romantic-Comedy Co-Starring Owen Wilson

    Jennifer Lopez is reteaming with STXfilms on the upcoming romantic-comedy “Marry Me.” Kat Coiro is directing the film and Owen Wilson is in final negotiations to join the pic, which will likely shoot this fall. The script was written by John Rogers and Tami Sagher, with a rewrite by Harper Dill. Lopez and Wilson both [...]

  • Steve Golin The Revenant Spotlight Producer

    Steve Golin, Prolific Producer and Founder of Anonymous Content, Dies at 64

    Steve Golin, an Oscar-winning producer who was founder and CEO of Anonymous Content, died Sunday in Los Angeles of cancer. He was 64. Golin was a pioneer in blending the business of talent management with production. Anonymous Content, which Golin founded in 1999, worked with a stable of big name artists such as Steven Soderbergh, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content