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Review From The House: The Glass Box

The Glass BoxThe Glass Box
Written and performed by Kyla Harris, Watson Moy and Susanna Uchatius
Directed and dramaturged by Joanna Garfinkel
Theatre Terrific Society
Playwrights Theatre Centre Studio
Feb 18-28 , 2009

Vancouver, BC:  As readers of my theatre columns from the "Rants, Raves and Reviews" days to the current "As I See It" commentaries would know, I am always excited by plays that challenge me to think  in new ways or question my basic assumptions.  I really did not know what to expect when I went off to see "The Glass Box" but this original work developed by the three actors, succeeded in both aspects. When filling in the survey form after the show as we were invited to do,  I came across a question that tried to get at the emotions that this play aroused. I can't remember all the options but I do remember that one of the words was "uncomfortable" and that I had to admit to myself that this was one of the reactions I felt.  Now before you assume this is a negative  - after all people generally go to theatre to be entertained not to feel uncomfortable - by acknowledging that I responded to the material in that way, I felt compelled to think and talk about issues that  I would not normally think much about. So instead of getting into the car and heading straight home, we ended up round the corner at the restaurant, talking about the play for a long time.

The Glass Box
This is good.

It started off slowly, possibly because I saw it on the preview night,  and at first I was a bit confused about  the storyline.  The three actors, Susanna Uchatius (54 year old wife and mother), Kyla Harris (23 year old woman living with quadriplegia) and  Watson Moy (32 year old man with Down Syndrome) are on a talk show  where they play out the roles of their ideal fantasy figure. Harris is Cleopatra, reclining on a couch, from where she tosses out cards with questions to be answered by Uchatius who is a voluptious Sophia Loren  and Moy who plays a hunky Brad Pitt.  Questions that delve into relationships, sexuality, self-perception and how you think the world perceives you.

I found that for me the tension of the play increased dramatically from the moment  that Harris began to move from her couch into the wheel chair and the real Kyla Harris emerged from Cleopatra. I think I held my breath through a large part of that transformation and then watching an actress play herself on stage.  On the other hand, I also really enjoyed the relaxation of tension when Moy was dancing. He really lost himself in the rhythm and joy of the music - I know that feeling well and I kind of wanted to hop up onto the stage and dance with him.

Proabably the part that resonated with me most, for obvious reasons,  were the issues of  the wife/ mother character. Sophia Loren is a great example of how sensuality is not restricted to youth.  Hmmm... I have not yet gone off to buy a bright red slip so I guess it may be a while before I am ready to emulate Loren's famous striptease but Uchatius did it beautifully.

This is the first work I have seen by Theatre Terrific. With the dramaturgical guidance and direction by Joanna Garfinkel, the ensemble worked well together. The Glass Box  set was effective both as metaphor and actuality.  I still have not completely resolved my thoughts about the questions raised but I am working on it.  I hope that others who see the play will add their comments to this review. I would really like to hear your reactions.