The Halifax Theatre for Young People’s dynamic duo
A pair of shows, and two pairs of actors deliver raw emotion in In the Fall and In This World.
By Tara Thorne
The Halifax Theatre for Young People—you know what kids are cool with? Rebranding!—presents a pair of two-handers best seen together. Glen J. Matthews and Doug MacAulay ably and sensitively anchor In the Fall as James and David, brothers barely in their teens in Cape Breton in the ’50s, while Kristen Slaney and Helena Pipe are Bijou and Neyssa, two contemporary teens, in In This World. The former was written by Chris Heide, adapting too faithfully from an Alistair MacLeod short story—the actors narrate more than converse, the precise, dense, evocative language sometimes pulling focus from director Tessa Mendel’s simple but clever staging. But it’s a compelling story, as we see the moment the boys’ innocence is stolen by a perfect storm of poverty and greed. In This World was penned by Toronto rising star Hannah Moscovitch, and here the staging is even more efficient: two chairs inside a box, no breaks. They once were friends but now Neyssa’s punching Bijou out. While waiting in the principal’s office the girls work back to the moment of betrayal, and to the surprise of all, it’s much bigger than the usual teenage tiff. Slaney and Pipe are excellent, switching Thelma and Louise-style from victim to aggressor, over and over, until they come to an understanding, shared and grown-up and terrible.