Aumentare Productions

Death Defying Acts
By Woody Allen, David Mamet & Elaine May

3 One Act Comedies: Central Park West, An Interview & Hotline

Dates 18 April - 5 May 2007 Venue Havana Theatre Reviewer Erin Jane

Death Defying Acts is a dark comedy in three unrelated acts put on by Aumentare Productions. When I told friends that I was seeing a play in the small 60-seat theatre in the back of Havana Restaurant on Commercial Drive, I was surprised to find that most people had been to the restaurant but had never known about the theatre hidden in the back.

Havana is not only a Cuban restaurant and venue, but also a contemporary art gallery that showcases local and International artists, and is supported solely by the restaurant and art sales. The hidden theatre and ess-than-covert art gallery are great little features of Havana that I’d love to see gain more popularity and exposure.

Death Defying Acts is a gritty play comprising of three acts: Woody Allen’s Central Park West, David Mamet’s An Interview, and Elaine May’s Hotline. Each one highlights quirks of human nature with a backdrop of death, suicide and murder, as impossible as that sounds. Though dealing with such morose subject matter, Death Defying Acts does not take itself very seriously.

Each act is an animated exchange of witty banter, usually culminating in a frustrating breakdown of communication between each of the characters. This breakdown of communication is usually a result of confusing literal with figurative, and plays on words are strewn throughout the dialogue.

The well-written dialogue in each act is delivered ably by all actors, and especially impressive is John Burnside’s performance as the Attendant in An Interview and Dr Russell in Hotline. Burnside’s more relaxed approach to the script was a welcome change from other more exaggerated performances, which tended to take focus away from the cleverly-written dialogue, rather than highlighting it. The sharp dialogue could have been faster-paced, but all actors did very well considering the challenges of the script and the length of some of the more difficult passages.

Death Defying Acts is by no means an easy performance to accomplish successfully, but Aumentare should be commended for attempting it.

© 2007 Erin Jane