By Ryen Veldhuis
Few shows at the Sudbury Theatre Centre take on a darker tone filled with otherworldly mysticism and twisting plots.
Not often is this kind of ambition on stage taken as it was with Stephen Massicotte’s The Clockmaker; however it pays off in the form of strong performances and interesting technical aspects.
With many plays going through the STC, few have a sense of mysticism about them, save for children plays. This can be troublesome due to the overabundance of ‘realistic’ stories and characters that tend to make one’s theater-going rather dull. However, The Clockmaker breaks this trend in that it hits a variety of themes other than the usual comedy and relationship-drama.
The Clockmaker reaches from mystery, to comedy, to fantasy, to physical conflict that so many productions in Sudbury seem to lack.
The technical aspect of the production also enhances the ambitious choice of script with the abilities of the set. Using three rotating cogs on the stage, it makes for quick and spectacular set changes and interactions of the performers in a way that fits the motif of the play so well. Set changes have so many moving parts (performers included) that it all seems to be playing out like clockwork before the audience’s eyes.
The production carries across two different locations, here and there, and both have a specific ambiance, one feeling more grounded and the other feeling more surreal.
The performances of the actors were mixed, with Stephen Sparks (Monsieur Pierre) and Richard Sheridan Willis (Heinrich Mann) being on the stronger side; while Jay Davis (Adolphus) and Jessica Moss (Freida) being on the weaker side. However, this isn’t to say the latter two were unsatisfactory, as near the end particularly, Davis’ performance renders the audience dead silent under the blind rage and passion of his character.
The interactions between Sparks and Willis on stage were the most intriguing. Sparks’ portrayal of the character allowed for a pleasantly awkward exchange that left much to anticipate in terms of the reveal, dealing with the memories and lack-thereof of Willis’ character.
With a compelling and mystical opening, the production garners enough interest to make it through some of the less compelling moments to work its way to passionate performances by the entire cast near the end.
STC’s production of The Clockmaker is a refreshing change from the ‘realistic’ productions that have been all too frequent. With some well-done moments by the performers on an interesting set, it is one of the more compelling productions this season at the STC.