Tonight I watched the play An Enemy of the People at Tarragon Theatre. While seated and waiting for the play to start, I read and re-read the projection on the screen shielding the set; I didn’t understand it. I had a sinking feeling that I had just set myself up for two hours of boredom.
But happily I was wrong! I was only bored for about an hour, all told.
I will preface this review by saying that I am no theatre critic – I’m just critical. I initially found the story’s main character annoying and whiny, and felt like they didn’t fit in with the rest of the cast (though I’m not sure if this was due to the actress or if it’s just simply the character they were playing); I didn’t understand the strange musical interludes or their purpose/contribution to the story; I found the story’s set up and lead up to the climax rather slow (this would be the hour of boredom). Also – why were there paintings of sharks on the walls of the set?
But then the “town hall” happened and the experience became interactive. That monologue! The writing on the screen before the play started – I got it. And wow did the main character/lead actress deliver that monologue!! Yes, I just repeated myself and doubled my exclamation points in that last sentence – it was that good! The whole tone of the experience shifted and I felt energized and engaged as I realized the play was about the economy versus the environment, family versus the community, democracy and the liberal majority (and in our case the Liberal majority) trying to define “the greater good.” It hit me all at once.
I’m at home writing this and still thinking about the characters and their choices, and the choices they were about to make in the fictional universe of this play, as the lights went out in reality.
I have three more shows to see this season at Tarragon Theatre (I bought a five-show subscription) – and I can’t wait. It’s great to have such a vibrant and affordable arts scene in the city of Toronto. FYI: five-pack play subscriptions are available for only $107 if you’re under 35!