When I look at the plays I have reviewed in the past for The Saint, I see a list of the usual suspects: Arthur Miller, Oscar Wilde, Tennessee Williams. In short, the names that can be relied upon to pull in audiences. I should start then by congratulating Lost Boot Productions for putting on Snore at the union’s The Stage on November 10 and 11, a play by the lesser known Max Posner, a US-based playwright who does not even have a Wikipedia article I can hastily research him on.
Unfortunately, I am not sure if Posner’s play was the right choice. Snore tells the story of six college graduates, Tom, Nina, Deb, Allie, Abe and Mia, navigating the adult world for the first time. While there were some interesting ideas floating around, the play often devolved into six privileged people sitting around musing about their problems. There were scenes of real tenderness, humour and tension, but there were also scenes that felt like an episode of Friends with the jokes taken out. To be clear, I believe these were issues with Posner’s script rather than this production.
I will try and put my own personal issues with the script to one side however and focus on how well the cast and crew translated the source material onto the stage. Overall, the chemistry between the cast was convincing and engaging, and there was an incredibly natural and relaxed rhythm to the dialogue. At times however, I wondered if the dialogue was perhaps too naturalistic. Lines were occasionally delivered too quickly, or characters spoke over each other and I was left feeling somewhat out of the loop. While I believed entirely in the characters in front of me, I could not always follow the thread of their conversations or their motivations. Halfway through the play a secret romance is revealed between two characters with little in common. Perhaps this had more to do with the script as there was little wrong with the individual performances, but the play never managed to sell me on their pairing.
The highlight of the play for me was Tom’s monologue at the very end, delivered expertly by Jack Detwiler. It was the most overtly theatrical moment, as Tom faced the audience and delivered a heart-breaking wedding speech to his imaginary son. Detwiler took his time and let every line land, single-handedly giving the play some emotional heft in the closing scene.
There were no weak links in the cast, but there are a few performances that deserve highlighting. Isabella Sheridan’s Mia was the most instantly likeable of all the characters, breezing into the first scene with a bundle of sharply delivered one-liners and a wig the costume team evidently enjoyed picking out. Mia was self-conscious and unable to stop talking, a balance that Sheridan hit perfectly. Morgan Corby gave a great physical performance as Abe, a tensed-up bag of nerves from start to finish. The second half of the play brought a jolt of comedic energy with Grace Thorner as Mia’s delightfully awful mother. Thorner’s performance produced the biggest laughs from the audience and skewering of middle-class nastiness put me in mind of Olivia Colman in Fleabag.
Then, of course, there was the audience favourite: G. J. Watts as Hank. An outsider to the group brought in as Allie’s older boyfriend, Watts played Hank with a lovable awkwardness. Watts’s look of total confusion as he tried to keep up with complex dynamics of the group was immediately endearing, placing him in the same position as the audience. Watts also walked with a forlorn shuffle wherever he went, making the simple act of entering or exiting a scene a delight.
The production design was utilitarian and largely unremarkable, but this is no bad thing. A good production team knows when to hold back and let the focus stay on the actors. Snore is a play that invites you simply to sit with its characters for two hours and share in their world. While not a whole lot actually happens, Martin Caforio and his cast should be commended for managing to breathe some life into those characters.