After staging a successful run with sold-out performances at the MainLine Theatre in November of 2017 (read Montreal Theatre Hub’s first review here), d2 productions’ Late Company settles into the Segal Centre for an encore presentation that provides critical continuation to the conversation on anti-gay bullying and violence among youth.
Fulfilling their mandate of exclusively staging Canadian plays, d2 once again highlights the excellence of wordsmith Jordan Tannahill’s craftsmanship in a gripping remounted production deftly directed by Dale Hayes.
It’s one of the company’s most potent works to date, and one met with a poignant standing ovation on Tuesday opening night.
Inspired by a real-life Ottawa tragedy, Tannahill’s provocative piece gathers two families around a formal dinner table as a bereaved couple welcomes their late son’s former bully and his parents into their home. Closure is on the menu in a well-intended yet uncomfortable attempt at reconciliation between them in the aftermath of the teen schoolboy’s suicide. Boiling tensions rise to explode at the surface, however, with pointed accusations on who’s to blame for Joel Shaun-Hastings’s death unravelling deep-seated homophobia and hypocrisy. But just when forgiveness seems a near impossibility in the seeking out of responsibility and revenge, an unexpected gesture of humanity gives hope for mutual healing in the face of grief.
From the original d2 cast, only the luminous Helena Levitt and Leigh Ann Taylor return to reprise their roles, and they are now newly joined on stage by an equally formidable Steve Gillam, Daniel Gervais, and Aidan Dmytriw.
The acting ensemble is solid, but as the heavy piece is broadly played to its tragedy, the young Dmytriw is a particularly transfixing presence with his subdued portrayal (and comic one-liners) of the seemingly detached Curtis. The gangly character’s chilling verbal silence is perhaps more cutting than any knife-sharp altercation at the table, and his physical stillness serves as a fascinating counterpoint to the surrounding whirlwind of unleashed emotion. Late Company is at its finest when ferociously raw or unnervingly withheld.
Casting light on cyberbullying in the era of social media, the script rings alarmingly relevant. At times the premise of the unmediated family meeting and its awkward dinnertime proceedings (most notably, the sequence sharing Joel’s photos and awards) are a bit difficult to digest, but we swallow in the spirit of wishful reconciliation.
d2‘s production is particularly commendable for opening up the contemporary conversation on teen bullying and making it widely accessible to Montreal audiences; on December 12th, there will be a special show geared towards high school students, parents and educators that will be followed by a talkback with mental health professionals, and on December 14th the show will provide sound enhancement for the benefit of patrons with hearing loss.
Tears shed on and off stage in this gut-wrenching and heart-rending remount from one of Montreal’s most beloved indie theatre companies – a hard-hitting highlight of the winter season.
Read below Violette’s Kay review of d2‘s 2017 production of Late Company, whose thorough analysis and critique on the original still applies to the replicated 2019 remount:
d2 productions presents Jordan Tannahill’s Late Company
December 10th – 15th, 2019 at the Segal Centre Studio
Tickets ($20 – 28): www.segalcentre.org | (514) 739-7944