Review: The Particulars, November 16

Although I read about this play beforehand, I still did not have a clear sense of what it was about. But now I can tell you. I see it as an exploration of the way we use rituals, routines, and soothing behaviours to ease and numb the horrible pain of loss.

Nathan Barrett does a fine job with this one-man show, written by playwright Matt MacKenzie. Barrett’s style, playing the main character Gordon, is kinesthetic, which adds a lot of interest to the show. The words are spoken and at the same time physically enacted. Gordon is a man with some very particular behaviours, and a routine which brooks no interruption. Gordon gardens, and cooks, and attends church and a cinema club in the church basement. In fact, Gordon seemed rather like a stick-in-the-mud type before the big dance number, which is hilarious, and shows off Barrett’s dance talents admirably. Does Gordon have OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder), or is he just very particular? Does it matter?

Gordon goes through his routines day after day, only to be tormented every night by a scratching sound as he lies in bed. His attempts to use neighborhood cats to kill this sound fails. What is this sound? What does it represent? When Gordon finds out what causes the noise, is he seeing the truth or has he slipped over the edge of sanity?

The more I think about this play, the more subtexts I can see, and more interrelationships become apparent. The writing has a lot of subtleties.

The Particulars-Nathan Barrett2

The set, at Vancouver’s PAL Theatre, was minimal and kept the focus on Barrett.

This play has both comic and tragic elements. It cannot easily be categorized. I hope we have another chance to see it in Vancouver. Barrett did say he will be performing this play at his high school soon.

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