Tarragon continues on strong this season with their English-language premiere of playwright-in-residence Maria Milisavljevic’s Abyss. Abyss shows the audience what happens to the friends and family 24-year-old Karla Ritcher who mysteriously goes missing one rainy night. When the police refuse to act on the situation, Karla’s lover Vlado, her roommate and her roommate’s sister are forced to take matters into their own hands and try to find Karla themselves. With a plot that demands intrigue, this play hits all the high notes that is expected of a Tarragon production.
One of the most noteworthy aspects of this play is the incredible performances put on by I (Cara Pifko), He (Gord Rand) and She (Sarah Sherman). Taking on multiple roles and being able to switch between characters with ease, these three had the audience hooked throughout the entire performance. The performers worked well with Milisavljevic’s writing. They were able to go from engaging in serious and dramatic dialogue between each other, to speaking directly to the audience and narrating everything that the characters were doing. Given the way this piece was staged, this was not only an incredibly effective aspect of the piece, but also incredibly necessary.
The staging had the three performers in a state of constant physical contact, with each of them always touching the other two performers in one way or another. While this aesthetic did create some physical limitations to what the performers could do, it also created truly beautiful imagery and helped reinforce the theme of togetherness.
While there were several aspects of this piece that worked incredibly well, there was one aspect of the play that I did find slightly confusing. Throughout the narrative, I (the character, not me, just to clear that up) would be triggered by some event to remember back to when she was younger and her grandfather taught her how to kill and prepare a rabbit. I am not going to say it was unnecessary, because I’m sure that there was a purpose to it in the grand scheme of the play, I just was unable to see it.
Moving on from there, the production aspects of this piece proved to be effective. The set was simply a bare eight by eight diamond shaped riser, which had the performers a good three feet off the ground. This set, along with the minimal use of props, allowed the entire focus of the piece to remain on the importance of what the characters were saying.
I would completely recommend seeing this piece. I won’t go so far as to say that it is a must-see, but if you happen to be in the area at the time of the performance, you can’t go wrong with picking up a couple of tickets.
Abyss, directed by Richard Rose, is playing at the Tarragon Theatre until March 15. For more information visit www.tarragontheatre.com
photo credit: Cylla von Tiedemann