Dates and Venue 20 February – 2 March 2013, Tues – Fri 8pm (Sat 5pm & 9pm, Sun matinee 2pm, Wed matinee 1pm) | The Firehall Arts Centre
Director Cameron MacKenzie Set & Costume Designer Marina Szijarto Lighting Designer Jergus Oprsal Sound Designer Shawn Sorensen Stage Manager Stephanie Elgersma
Reviewer John Jane
Dave Deveau's My Funny Valentine delves into the Valentine’s Day, 2008 tragedy that befell a small California community. Deveau's speculative drama doesn’t attempt to deal with the facts of the circumstances where 15 year-old Lawrence King was shot dead by fellow student 14-year-old Brandon McInerney after being asked to be the older boy’s valentine. He uses half a dozen pseudo peripheral characters, none of which are the unnamed victim or perpetrator, to delineate the emotional aftermath.
The success of the play relies heavily on a tour de force performance by solo actor Anton Lipovetsky. He is already on stage when the doors opened to allow the audience into the theatre space. Barefoot and slovenly dressed in grey sweatpants, beige shirt, opened completely at the front to reveal a rumpled white tee, the young actor appears to be sifting through a myriad of photographs, reprints of newspaper and magazine articles and samples of artwork arranged in a tidy circle on the stage floor.
Described in the programme as The Collector, Lipovetsky moves uninterrupted through each of the six characters, gradually drawing the audience into separately constructed monologues. With the first character, Bernard Michaels the local journalist, we get a tongue-in-cheek account of the immediate repercussions. It’s he who first picked up the story while watching television as he celebrated Valentine’s Day a couple of days early in a cheap motel.
With the help of Jergus Oprsal’s subtle light changes, Lipovetsky transitions into the other characters: Gloria, a flakey student from the same junior high school is indifferent to the outcome, except that it drew attention away from her. Helen, a recurring character throughout the play, is the teacher whom Lawrence King attempted to connect with, is the most affected by the student’s death. An elderly neighbour who salutes the gay teen for his courage in living out his lifestyle and another teacher who wonders if the same gay teen wasn’t in fact the architect of his sad fate.
Lipovetsky gives an extra, almost plausible dimension to a redneck father of one of Kings’ classmates, who postulates that the “kid had it coming.” Finally, there is Rhonda, a young girl whose life is spared when she receives a transplant of one of King’s organs.
My Funny Valentine is serious, yet at times humourous, it’s disturbing and yet serene. Anton Lipovetsky offers a nuanced performance that won’t be easy to forget.
© 2013 John Jane