Bare looks at issues of LGBTQIA teens with a production that surpasses its script

Caroline Russell-King offers up a Postcard Review of Bare: A Pop Opera presented by The Honest Collective.

Show: Bare.

Playwright/composer: Book and lyrics by Jon Hartmere, music by Damon Intrabartolo, with Lynne Shankel.

Production company/theatre space: The Honest Collective at Living Spirit United Church.

Length: Two acts (Two hours and 20 minutes with one intermission).

Genre(s): Musical tragedy.

Premise: Two teenagers deal with hiding their relationship from homophobic parents and those around them in a Catholic school.

Why this play? Why now?: I’m not sure. The play had an Off-Broadway production in 2012, but it feels as if it’s really a much older script. While the LGBTQIA war hasn’t been won it far surpasses this material.

Curiosities: I wondered what teenagers thought of this production and if seniors in the audience might remember a time past. I really was curious about how it was for poor Katelyn Morishita who has to sing a song that tries to make one of the heinous antagonists sympathetic. Was the trigger warning necessary because it was in a church?

Notable lines: “Pain adores me and God ignores me.”

Notable writing: This libretto follows a tired trope with predicable plot points, without one new or fresh idea.  

Notable performances: The performances of all 15 members far surpass this mediocre material. In this community production, the leads Ryan Maschke and Simon Tottrup deliver professional level performances. Well done. 

Notable design/production: On a “bare” set with no real lighting equipment it was the addition of the costumes by Catherine Handford and Ryan Maschke add just the right note.

Notable direction: For someone who graduated in 2017, Rebecca Fauser is a director on a strong trajectory. 

One reason to see this show: It’s a strong debut. The Honest Collective says it wants to work … based in truth; and being honest and truthful the production is so much better than this script. (I can’t wait to see what AD Alex Bergan chooses next.) 

Bare runs until Feb. 23 at the Living Spirit United Church.

Caroline Russell-King is a playwright, dramaturg, and instructor. She is a member of The Playwrights Guild of Canada, the Dramatist Guild of America and the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. You can find her work here