MacIvor’s In On It is existential and unpredictable in the hands of Nasty Shadows

3 02 2017

by Alexander Rioux


This One (Scott Shannon) and That One (Michael Holmes-Lauder) reflect on childhood in Daniel MacIvor’s In On It at UNB’s Memorial Hall. Photo Credit: Michael Holmes-Lauder

Nasty Shadows Theatre Co.’s production of Daniel MacIvor’s In On It at UNB’s Memorial Hall offers an emotional story with a complex presentation that makes for a night of pondering existential dread, in the best way one can.

The show begins with cheery music that transforms into an opera as the audience waits for the show to begin. On the floor in a spotlight is a suit jacket. This One enters and puts it on. He delivers a monologue about driving and the horror of it because one doesn’t know the blood alcohol level or mental wellbeing of the other people on the roads. Naturally, this monologue ends with a collision. But, when the lights go out and the next thing heard is, “Do you really wanna start it like that?” the play becomes a lot less predictable.

The design of the show is minimal. The only set pieces used are two black chairs. The use of the chairs in the space is handled well. You never see the chairs in the same configuration unless there is intention behind it. However, the chairs themselves feel strange. Since these are the only pieces of set that are used, it would have helped to be a little pickier about their appearance. I got the feeling that they were plucked from somewhere in the venue and were thought of as sheer utility rather then part of the production. It was the only set they had, and it felt wasted.

The lighting aids in forgetting about this slight design issue. The show itself jumps between a play, the discussion This One and That One have about the play, and the depiction of the history between the two. While in the play the two are hit with spotlights, exchanging lines, they never look at one another; then there is a general wash when This One and That One have their “rehearsal”; finally, there is a dreamy blue and pink lighting when they’re reliving their past together. The lighting is a guiding hand, helping the audience to navigate a fragmented storyline, keeping each setting and timeline easily distinguishable from the next.

Michael Holmes-Lauder and Scott Shannon are an electric pair. Holmes-Lauder (That One) brings a bouncy enigmatic energy expertly contrasted by Shannon’s (This One’s) stuffy and prudish characterization. This One and That One take on several unique roles—young and old, man and woman—and put these personas on seamlessly.

It’s the type of honesty one needs, especially for such an intimate production.

Daniel MacIvor’s In On It, produced by Nasty Shadows Theatre Company at UNB’s Memorial hall, ran January 12-14, 2017 before touring to Saint John and Moncton.



One response

3 02 2017

Thanks for posting your thoughts about the show! We’re so glad you came out and that the show hit you in a way we’d hope 😉 Just by way of conversation: The script notes that the chairs should be non-descript, “like something just found in the venue” … interesting point though in your commentary, although I guess we’d argue MacIvor’s perspective that the chairs should seem like just regular non-important chairs, which just reinforces the focus on the performers, and MacIvor is *all* about the performers 🙂 Thanks again!

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