One of the reasons I like going to the Attic Arts Hub is the total experience. It’s in Leslieville, one of Toronto’s nicest neighbourhood, bespeckled with shops and restaurants and pubs, like The Roy Public House. The Attic Arts Hub is itself located above a wonderful restaurant, The Queen Margherita Pizza. So you could enjoy a great dinner there, and also see a play. The Attic is such a lovely space, with a tent like wooden ceiling. The whole room has a lovely warmth to it. It seems to embrace you and make you feel welcome, no matter the season.
On the weekend, I went to see the Attic’s latest offering, The Four of Us, by American playwright Itamar Moses, produced in Toronto by Foxglove Theatre. In The Four of Us, we see, primarily, Simon Mizera (as David) and Michael-David Blostein (as Benjamin), two writers at various stages of their friendship. Mostly, the action centres around David trying to deal with Benjamin’s early and incredible success. The whole play is a study of their relationship.
The work is very well directed by Samantha Holland. I find this interesting as Holland is a woman, and this is an all-male play, including Chistropher Fulton and Mike Ruderman. Historically, most theatre directors have been men, but there has been a steady rise in the number of females, and the results in this case are very good.
As the leads, Simon Mizera and Michael-David Blostein are engaging actors, and I for one hope to see them in other works. In fact, the main reservations I have about this production is the text itself. The play lacks any real danger or conflict. Conflict is the life blood of drama, even if it’s all just under the surface. But Itamar Moses doesn’t really write that well. In fact, Canadian playwright Kat Sandler can conjure male characters who exhibit far greater vitality and intimacy. But again, the director, the actors, and overall viewing is well worth the experience. In particular, there is something malevolent and mysterious about Michael-David Blostein. I have a hunch one day he’s going to pop up a villain in a famous yet-to-be-written film. Or perhaps as a saint who suffers martyrdom with exceptional bravery. One doesn’t just go to a play to watch what’s on stage. A play is also an appetizer for the imagination.
I could get into trouble for saying this but everyone even remotely associated with this production is pleasing to the eye. Is it wrong to admire male and female beauty? Note to myself: I should say more about why there are four cast members for what is really a two-character play, but I won’t. I feel that’s part of the mystery or secret of the play. And there ought to be things you must judge for yourself.
The Attic Arts Hub, 1402 Queen St. East
$20; Available through eventbrite.com or at the door
September 17 to 26, 2016.
Saturday-Sunday at 8:00 pm (matinee at 2pm on Sun Sept 25); Industry Night Monday 26 at 8:00 pm.
What Others Have Said About This Play:
Reviews from past productions of The Four of Us: Four stars. An extremely clever and enjoyable study of friendship…funny, touching, and wickedly smart. – Time Out New York. A clever comic drama with a nifty twist…a touching, appealing play. – The New York Times. A smart, sharply observed, and exceptionally enjoyable affair. 90 minutes of humor and painful truths that really zip along. – Chicago Tribune.
The Four of Us is produced by Šimon Mizera. The design team for the production includes David Costello (lights), Andy Lajeunesse (sound), Isaac Robinson (set), Zuzana Benesova (graphics) and Tomas Andel (composer). The stage manager is John Murphy.
All photos by Burke Campbell