NS reviews

Reviews of theatre and art in Nova Scotia and beyond

Olson confronts and chills in MacIvor’s Monster at Halifax Fringe

monster-3Taylor Olson gives a terrific performance in Daniel MacIvor’s chilling, complex Monster at the Bus Stop Theatre, 2203 Gottingen St., as part of the Halifax Fringe Festival.

This structurally-challenging, suspenseful, one-man drama begins in total darkness with Olson entering the theatre from the rear saying, ‘Shutup asshole,’as he explains a movie is about to start.

Immediately Olson confronts his audience – often in direct address – with a violent, off-kilter character who represents the darkness in humanity.

The identity of this malevolent monster is an unknown – and sometimes we wonder if it is all of us – until the very, startling end of this physcological thriller first produced 20 years ago.

Olson plays 10 characters with a wonderful change of voice and use of hand gestures. The play focusses on fathers and sons and on the relationship between an imperceptive, young woman who wants a child and her disturbed boyfriend, whose father was an alcoholic and who once thought his name was Rob Roy.

Sometimes men playing women overdo it; Olson doesn’t. His voice is right and his simple gestures put us in a bathroom or bedroom with a woman dressing and doing her makeup as she talks to her guy.

Monster becomes a history of why a young boy would commit a violent crime and fits in —  sadly —  with today’s — even yesterday’s — endless shootings in the U.S. by young men, not that we don’t have them in Canada too.

Julia Schultz directs Olson as he challenges the audience to look him in the eye during a story we want to escape.

At last year’s fringe the Halifax film and stage actor, nominated for a Nova Scotia Screen Award for his acting in the film Hopeless Romantic, told his own, high-energy, tormented story in Heavy. This year he ramps up his energy even more and focusses and finesses his technique with scary results.

An uncomfortable and unforgettable play, Monster is on tonight at 8:15 p.m. and Tuesday at 11 p.m. Tickets are $10 and $7. All things fringe are online (https://halifaxfringe.ca/).

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