Unstuck challenges old notions about love, marriage and monogamy
Picture a modern condo, a sleek office desk behind a lavish queen size bed, adjacent to Le Corbusier le grand sofa set. Located opposite to a mini bar area complete with classic 1950’s bar stool sensually lit with industrial style silver metal lights hung from the ceiling. A clean cut man in a blue dress shirt and jeans is pacing around the room, irritably typing on his laptop while looking over his lover who is deeply asleep in a beautiful tuxedo on the sofa. The tension is thick, and we are only just getting started.
As the story unfolds, this night -- marred by a very loud protest against gay marriage outside their windows -- happens to be the couple’s 10 year’s anniversary.
They have not had sex in six months, and despite the love that runs deep between them, the gulf is ever widening to the point all communication is a form of complaint.
All of these back and forth arguing and passive aggressive avoidance was interrupted by the arrival of a hot young stud that was meant as a present to spice up their love life.
That's the intriguing plot of the new play, "Unstuck" starting Sean Harris Oliver, Ari Solomon and Kevin Kraussier. To call them hot and talented is an understatement, so let me shed some light on the story.
This young guy, Jared (Sean Harris Oliver) was very brash, energetic, rebellious and cocky. He looks like he comes from a well to do family with his designer duds, and trendy high top runners, making ridiculous comments such as “who needs money when you look like this”.
At first I thought his character was bi-polar, as he can switch very easily from his valley girl ditsy talk to revealing his more fragile, vulnerable side. Desiring a human connection, to be in love, and his keen observation that was both poignant and dead on.
After speaking with the playwright Even Tsitsias, he wrote him to be a bit manipulative. Sean Harris Oliver did a fantastic job portraying Jared, this cocky, lonely young man who wants something a little bit more meaningful than another one night stand.
His rant about wanting to blow the cover of the politicians that are outside talking against gay marriage who blew him only last week, was both delightful and laugh-out-loud funny. Sean plays his character perfectly, like a tornado that blows in, makes a mess and leaves.
Kevin Kraussier’s character Matt, the playwright who invited him to come for the sleepover, was more of a tortured artist. I found his character really fascinating as he would flip flop on his own decisions, and at times be all logical, and at other times, all sentimentality.
I couldn’t figure out between the couple Mat and Tim, who was the dominant and who was the submissive. They interchanged so frequently, yet these tensions, and yearning for connection exist in all relationships, and was echoed in the audience as we laugh and cried along with the cast.
Ari Solomon’s character Tim was very cute and sweet. He perfectly played the exasperated middle-aged man who was a goody two-shoes. He has been criticized one too many times during sex to even attempt it anymore, he never would venture outside the relationship due to his undying devotion to his lover, despite his natural inclinations. He would cater his whole life around his love yet it is very clear that his own soul was slowly dying from the stagnation in predictability after 10 years of relationship. There are no solutions, hence the title “Unstuck”.
Sean’s character asking Matt if he could move in with them and join them in the relationship only annoyed him further. The straw that broke the camel’s back was Ara’s character, suggesting for Sean’s character to move in. Betrayal and hurt was written all over Kevin’s face, he refused which resulted in Ari walking out without saying much. The look on his face was almost saying, this was my last attempt and like the marriage proposal, I failed.
This story felt very real, its dialogue was natural speech, often without words, just sounds and gestures. The issues of monogamy, sex and love was brought up right to the forefront to provoke us to examine what we think is “normal”.
My assumption about gay couples' complete disregard for heterosexual concept of monogamy was thoroughly challenged. So was the fact could sex be just “body parts and saliva” and nothing else? Is it dangerous to bring in another person into a committed relationship without any ramifications?
I spoke to the cast afterwards, Ari revealed that the play was a collaborative effort and the ending was determined only three hours before curtain call.
The cast only had two weeks to work together to bring this to life. Kevin was a bit troubled by his character, as he himself is not so temperamental, so it was a challenge to play someone so neurotic. Sean was surrounded by people nonstop, but I did have a stimulating discussion with Evan about his play. To all my questions, he just smiled a sly smile like the Cheshire cat from Alice in Wonderland.
He informed me that his characters all exist in the grey area, nothing is black and white, and the story is written to provoke. Speaking to some of the audience afterwards over cookies and fruit, people relished the emotional drama of the play, which showed how loneliness was displayed in all three characters in different ways.
About the playwright Evan Tsitsias
He trained at York University, Sheridan College, and has a professional Training Certificate in Theatre of the Oppressed from Cardboard Citizens in London, England. He is an active member of Pat the Dog Playwrights Development Centre and a proud member of the Playwrights Guild of Canada.
His play Aftershock premiered at the 2010 Summerworks Festival and received the Best of Summerworks and Critic’s Pick awards. His play Strange Mary Strange premiered at the 2011 Summerworks Festival and won Best of Summerworks/Critic’s Pick and Outstanding Production from Now Magazine.
The play “Unstuck” will be showing from Saturday March 16-23rd at PAL Theatre, located at 581 Cardero Street. Tickets are $20, with Tuesday March 19th a benefit performance for Qmunity, BC’s Queer Resource Centre. Double Bill with “Bi, Hung, Fit and Married” written and performed by Mark Bentley Cohen. Tickets are $25, purchase online at www.screamingweenie.com.
About Screaming Weenie
Screaming Weenie's mission is to produce and promote queer and sex positive performance, facilitating a stronger Queer community by creating and encouraging the performing arts and artists. We strive to create greater positive public awareness and acceptance, through the performing arts, of individuals and groups outside of sexual and gender norms. Screaming Weenie has re-branded to be called “Frank”, which stands for honesty, and as artist director points out Frank Myer is a weenie, so it’s weenie all grown up.