Being At Home with Claude is Captivating

ross tundo, ryan fisher, lorne hiro
photo by steven mifsud
It is Montreal in July, 1967. A young hustler commits a savage murder. Why did he do it and, even more strangely, why did he turn himself over to the authorities when even the Police Inspector admits that the force would not have been able to link him to the crime? Out of this intrigue bursts forth Rene-Daniel Dubois’ 1986 play Being at Home With Claude, which has been translated by Linda Gaboriau and produced by Hiroic Productions as part of the 2010 Toronto Fringe Festival.
Dubois presents his audience with two strong characters in this play, who are placed immediately at odds with one another. The Inspector is searching vehemently for the truth amid a murder victim, a male prostitute, a potential scandal involving a well-respected judge, a city filled with Canada Day tourists and the press waiting like vultures just outside the door. The hustler is purposefully vague as he feeds the officer half-truths, daring him with a smirk to piece his case together. The tension is immediately compelling and the audience is entirely invested in uncovering this hustler’s secret.
Lorne Hiro plays the Inspector with intensity and frustration. Ryan Fisher is great at capturing the Hustler’s sense of aloofness and repressed passion. The speed and rhythm with which they exchange their dialogue could benefit from being crisper and more forceful, but they do capture nicely the sense of mounting stakes and Fisher’s delivery of a compelling, poetic, unexpected revelation at the end of the play is nothing short of mesmerizing. Ross Tundo also gives a noteworthy performance as a pithy and deadpan stenographer.
Alan Lee directs the play and makes good use of emotionally charged silences and he keeps his actors moving within their confined space, but only as much as the scenario realistically would warrant. I found it interesting that in a play written in 1986, set in 1967, which centers around a young gay male prostitute, and one who has murdered a young man no less, the Inspector and the Stenographer show no overt or even understated signs of homophobia. It is clear that Dubois did not write this dynamic into the script, but it may have enriched the piece if Hiro had infused his words and actions with a more ardent sense of prejudice, superiority and loathing.
Despite being tenative by times, this production of Being at Home with Claude is an ideal vehicle for Ryan Fisher, who I am certain is on the cusp of an exciting and lucrative career her in the theatre in Toronto.

Being At Home with Claude plays at the Tarragon Theatre Mainspace (30 Bridgman Avenue) at the following times:
 
Tue, July 6 10:30 PM
Wed, July 7 Noon
Thu, July 8 7:30 PM
Sat, July 10 4:00 PM

all tickets $10 at the door or book in advance by calling the fringe hotline at 416.966.1062 or go online at http://www.fringetoronto.com/.

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