In association with the Storefront Theatre and SideMart Theatrical Grocery, Rip Jaw Productions presents the world premiere of John Patrick Shanley’s A Woman is a Secret.
Directed by Andrew Shaver with enlightening musical interludes performed by Juno-nominated singer-songwriter, Matthew Barber, the production is packed with humour and leaves you light-hearted for love.
The play is comprised of a series of short dramas, focusing on a variety of different relationships between men and women. The differing plays are weaved together through thematic questions of change, belonging and identity, followed by the overarching dualism of fantasy and reality. Utilizing a cabaret-like atmosphere onstage, the characters drift into the background, mirroring the audience to invoke a reflection as the short scenes play out.
To be effective, short stories rely on carefully crafted narratives that emphasize implicit attention to strict details ranging in every aspect from time and setting to props. Relationships are to be intrinsically woven within the limited time otherwise the message remains void.
In short, the opening scene lacks volume and impact. The relationship portrayed by Noah Reid and Karen Knox is dry, leaving the dream structure and characters without any sense of depth and with faulty humour. The following scenes make minimal progression; however, the second scene between young Jade Hassouné and the ever-witty, Katie Swift educates and entertains the possibilities of change - a highly realistic take that contrasts well with that of the previous sequence.
Although falling short within the first three narratives, the production thrives in the second act. Karen Knox triumphantly returns as a Polish married supermodel accompanied by Jonathan Higgins, of which the couple champion the production with their comedic, yet captivating interactions. Anand Rajaram and Anna Hardwick present a challenge to love and class, followed by the final and utterly riotous scene ending with a Banshee (Martha Burns) - literally. The final celebration at the end of the play comes to cherish music and love, a communal celebration that functions to consolidate the scenes. All in all, audiences leave with nothing short of a smile on their face.
A Woman is a Secret runs to April 5th at the Theatre Centre. For tickets, please visit www.ripjawproductions.com or call the box office 416-538-0988.
photo credit: John Gundy