Paulo and Daphne, directed by Adrian Proszowski, seems like your run-of-the-mill doomed love story. Male and female have known each other for years. Male and female not-so-secretly love each other. Female friend-zones male. Male is known to have a record of promiscuity. Sounds like your typical recipe for disaster-type show. But the characters and their lives are anything but typical.
Paulo (W. Joseph Matheson) is an immigration lawyer and Daphne (Karen Glave) is his assistant. Though he loves her he can’t seem to keep his eyes (or any other part of him for that matter) off of his female clients, who come to him seeking Canadian citizenship. Though he wants to turn over a new leaf, his risque reputation makes it more difficult than he thought possible to achieve his goal. And when the beautiful Illyria (Daniella Forget) comes into his office, it is going to take some serious self-control to prove himself.
Playwright Ned Dickens cleverly mixes this story with mythology, creating a spin-off of the traditional Apollo and Daphne story. Dickens takes the plot for an unpredictable turn and shows the audience that each and every one of us has a story to tell. No matter how far back in history we go, well all share stories, we all share love and we all share pain.
It’s an interesting concept, though a bit slow to get to the point. Dickens’ characters flirt with the details of the mythology for quite some time before they come to that moment of realization.
The physical comedy is a riot. The actors master their timing, their energy is spot-on and they have the audience in fits at all the right moments.
Some of the serious moments however, require some work. I feel that Daphne has a deep, painful past that jumps out of the script, but seems to be sugar-coated in terms of the acting. At times, Glave’s larger-than-life style of acting worked, but at other times, I feel that I lost the human connection. Daphne is a beautifully complex character. I need to be reeled back in. My heartstrings need to be tugged at a little harder.
All in all, Paulo and Daphne is an experiment gone right. Dickens takes the most typical love story and approaches it from a rare, intelligent angle, mashing it with mythology and three quirky, mix-matched characters with riveting stories to tell.
Paulo and Daphne, presented by Theatreworks Productions, is playing at Pia Bouman Theatre until Dec. 7.