ira henderson & ashley marie pike

Jack Ward’s play Daybreak, which plays at DanSpace as part of the Atlantic Fringe Festival, starts out strong with an interesting tension between a strong female protagonist and a faltering male protagonist who tries to leave but finds himself drawn into the woman’s persuasive and aggressive dark psychological games. Although the dialogue is vague and the actors have difficulties sometimes justifying abrupt 180 degree shifts in objective, motivation and tactics, the audience is drawn in and compelled to unravel the mystery of who these two people are, what their relationship is and, ultimately, what they want from one another and which one succeeds in trouncing the other and how.

Things get muddier in the second scene, however, as the tables turn and Ashley Marie Pike’s character, who had such depth and mystique earlier, is suddenly transformed into a melodramatic, clueless damsel in distress. Ira Henderson comes into his own in the second scene, both during his intellectual tangents and his explosive rage, yet, Ward isn’t able to find stakes here large enough to hinge his plot plausibly upon. So much relies on Nadine being trapped by Daniel, yet Pike is nearly always right next to a wide open door. She has so many unused opportunities to save herself, yet the reason why she remains is not explored. There are a lot of interesting ideas in this concept and lots of opportunities to explore a very dark side of humanity and a very twisted relationship. I would have been fascinated and excited to see Nadine morph from the woman she is at the beginning of the second scene into the woman she becomes at the end of the first. As it is currently, the interesting, empowered female character with depth and complexity only exists in the imagination of the male character. This choice is much more dated and clichéd than much of the rest of the play.

I think Daybreak is tackling some very interesting ideas and that the strength of the first scene indicates that with some further exploration and tightening up of the loose ends the play can come together as a stronger and more unified piece.

TWISI Rating: 3 of 5 stars

Daybreak plays at DanSpace (1531 Grafton Street) as part of the Atlantic Fringe Festival at the following times:

Thursday September 5th at 9:40pm.

Tickets are $5.00 and are available in advance online at this website or 30 minutes before each show at the venue on the day of the performance. All tickets bought in person must be purchased with either cash or credit. For more information please visit this website or call 902.422.7604 between 10:00am and 5:00pm. 

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