Does life imitate art, or is it the other way around? That's the question posed in Brendan Gall's new play, Wide Awake Hearts. Presented by Tarragon Theatre, the play is about a talented director who decides to cast his wife and his best friend as lovers in a film. The on-screen romance bleeds into the real world, however, and the filmmaker must discern whether the movie caused the relationship to form, or if it just brought the truth to light.
After the fairly clear set-up, Wide Awake Hearts devolves into a succession of monologues and scenes that are characterized by sudden shifts in direction and behaviour. Most of the sex scenes end up in violence, while verbal exchanges demonstrate the mix of love and hate the characters feel for each other: “I hope you die alone. I don't say that from anger. I really mean it”.
Maev Beaty in "Wide Awake Hearts"
Gall purposefully blurs the worlds between the on-set and off-set worlds of the play. “Stop talking in punchlines!”, says one character; “Stop giving me set-ups,” replies another. Similarly, the use of letters instead of names is some sort of acknowledgment that the characters are interchangeable, even though at times, the script leads us to feel for them.
Director Gina Wilkinson crafts a thrilling production, where each scene falls smoothly into the next and the public seems to be kept in the momentum, not missing a word. The tiny Tarragon Theatre's Extra Space doesn’t seem to challenge Wilkinson who plays with the space's limitations as if they were created specifically for this show.
“All the world's a soundstage,” says one of the characters, “and all the men and women merely day players”. A clever invitation to reflect upon a story full of sound and fury, signifying nothing and everything...