Last Wednesday on a chilly, dark autumn night, a few short days before Halloween, I went to see Coal Mine Theatre's season-opener, British playwright Laura Wade's BREATHING CORPSES.
It's a perfect late autumn entertainment: a dark elegiac meditation on mortality, and the effect one person's death can have on the people around them, even those who never knew them in life.
A group of seemingly unconnected characters are impacted by a series of violent deaths: a suicide and two murders.
Wade's play is elegantly constructed, smartly written, and filled in equal measure with difficult relationships and dark humour. Here, doors are a potent and chilling metaphor. Do you really want to know what's on the other side?
Director David Ferry and his talented cast: Simon Bracken, Erin Humphry, Kim Nelson, Johnathan Sousa, Benjamin Sutherland, Severn Thompson and Richard Sheridan-Willis skillfully enrich the inter-connected stories with their performances, bringing individuality, poignancy and charm to each character and relationship. I particularly enjoyed Erin Humphry's turn as a chambermaid in a semi-sketchy hotel. Is the sparkle in her eye the twinkle of charm, or the glint of pathology?
As always at Coal Mine, the show makes excellent use of the minimal space, in great measure due to the excellent set design by Steve Lucas.
In his notes in the program, Ferry muses on the difference between determinism and chance in the matter of death. Certainly none of us will live forever: that much is determined. The rest? Wade's twist of an ending left me in shock: horrified and laughing uncomfortably at the same time.
BREATHING CORPSES is a very entertaining night of theatre: especially if you like a walk on the scary side of the street. On a dark, wet November night, is there any other side?
BREATHING CORPSES continues until November 13th at the COAL MINE THEATRE, 1454 Danforth Avenue from Tuesday to Sunday at 7:30 PM with a matinee on Sunday at 2:00 PM. For tickets and further information go to: www.coalminetheatre.com