Panych's Gordon Cleanses The Soul With ViolenceWednesday, March 07, 2012
In 1971 my wife Rosemary and I lived in Mexico City. We were teachers and in order to get to our jobs we had to drive through the horrendous bumper to bumper traffic of the Periférico. No matter how carefully I drove it was one-fender-bender-per-year kind of drive. By the time Friday arrived we were exhausted and full of big-city angst. It was on one of those Fridays that Rosemary and I went to see Sam Peckinpah’s Straw Dogs. As violence escalated in the film I could feel my angst rising up but paradoxically when it was all over and the credits began to run I felt like a good Roman Catholic who had just emerged from the sacrament of penance. I felt I was in a state of grace, purified by the blood and gore.
It was much the same I felt tonight when I attended the opening performance of Morris Panych’s (with set and costume design by partner and friend Ken MacDonald) Gordon (directed by Panych) at the Arts Club Theatre’s Revue Stage on Granville Island.
|Morris Panych & Ken MacDonald|
The cast, Carl,(Patrick Costello), Deirdre, (Pippa Mackie), Gordon, (Todd Thomson), and Gord, (Andrew Wheeler) was superb. To me Patrick Costello (playing an intelligence challenged small time hood) stood out as the best of the best but I saw elements of my precocious 14-year-old granddaughter in Pippa Mackie that chilled me.
But by the end of the night the extreme violence of this play made me think that if I were to spend my last days on a desert island with Todd Thomson’s Gordon (an ever so cool psychopath) and the play’s director Morris Panych (an ever so cool-looking psychopath) I would either be entertained for life or I would opt for taking my chances with the sharks. As a father and grandfather I understood all the motives that led Andrew Wheeler as Gordon’s father to the violence so aptly choreographed by our very own fight director Nicholas Harrison.
At one point, Rosemary asked me, "What's that?" They were ominous sounds and bits of music that with the dimming of the lights marked the beginning of Gordon's two acts. This is important to set the mood in a venue that has no curtains. I explained to her that it was the sound design of Patrick Pennefather who also composes music for many of our local dance companies.
While I warn anybody who might consider going to see this terrific play that the comedy part of this black comedy is rather slim and that the “excuse my French” language is almost constant, Gordon is a palate cleanser for the soul, particularly if you choose to attend on a Friday.
|Morris Panych & Ken MacDonald|
This blog gives me the opportunity to post here my three portrait sessions with Mr. Panych. I saw him at the opening last night and I could discern that warm look on his face which somehow does not match the b+w picture of him alone here. I remember he was most demanding (and I like that in my subjects) for that photograph and that there were intimations that the tough expression that he gave me were weighing on the Teddy bear that he really is.
If someone were to ask me, “Which playwright, above all others would you like to spend an evening having dinner with?” my answer would be unequivocal, “Morris Panych.”
|Nicole McLuckie & Morris Panych|