Repetitive Strain Injury, directed by Harry Judge and written by Rob van Meenen, is full of potential, with an intriguing, drama-filled plot line. Two characters are about to get married. The groom-to-be’s best friend is trying to pick up girls. The bride-to-be has an uncanny connection with a telemarketer from her bank. However, much to my chagrin, this potential has not yet been realized.
Minutes into Company Kid Logic’s Repetitive Strain Injury, I was worried. The piece opened with a scene between engaged couple David (Pat Kiely) and Julie (Amy Matysio), which introduced a recurring problem with the piece: I did not root for their relationship. Both the dialogue written for David and Julie and the chemistry between Matysio and Kiely felt forced. I wish there was more time allocated for the audience to understand why they should want this marriage to function.
On the other hand, a subsequent scene between Julie and Pia (Imali Perera) was the highlight of the piece for me. The concept was unique: a woman finding solace in a telemarketer from her bank, but being unable to reconnect with her, due to company policy and the fact that the telemarketing system randomly dials numbers, erasing them after a call is finished. Julie’s relationship with Pia was honest, with Pia offering Julie philosophical advice on how to deal with her uneasy state.
While Pia’s initial input was welcome, philosophical one-liners became recurring instances in the piece, and were often unnecessary, leaving little for the audience to figure out for themselves. Lines like “temet nosce” (“know thyself”), a Latin aphorism used in the The Matrix, are repeated throughout the piece and I felt as though van Meenen was trying too hard to ensure that the audience was paying close attention to his play.
Most of the characters in the play are archetypal, and some disappointingly, never move past their initial potential to become three-dimensional. Guy (Robin Dunne) is presented as a womanizer. When he picks up Candace (Ava Markus) in a bar, he says that he is showing her the worst side of him, so that she does not have to wait and discover that he has a nasty side later. While I found the monologue very effective, in subsequent scenes, Guy merely lived up to his nasty first impression, which I was so eager to witness.
The second act of Repetitive Strain Injury was full with new plot developments that seemingly came out of nowhere, and appeared to serve the purpose of making the characters’ lives intertwine with each other and complicating the characters’ relationships as much as possible. That being said, however, moments such as Guy’s aforementioned monologue, and the first interaction between Pia and Julie are promising. Considering that this is the first production coming from a new company, I look forward to seeing the work that they produce in the future.
Repetitive Strain Injury plays in the Factory Theatre Studio until December 15. Tickets $15-25. For more information, visit www.factorytheatre.ca.