Theory: doesn't reach the big idea


This quasi-thriller (produced by Public Radio and Camera Assembly and part of this year's SummerWorks) about Isabelle, a film studies professor whose progressive and open minded nature inadvertently invites an anonymous student to psychologically harass her digitally sounds good in summary but unfortunately falls flat on stage. This is despite capable performances, clear and elegant direction by Joanne Williams, and an above average set and production design; most of the blame falls on playwright Norman Yeung who appears to be reaching for a ‘big idea’ play without actually making many compelling arguments.

Much of the dialogue has an intellectual sheen to it, and there are literal debates within the story itself, but it nevertheless suffers from a sort of limpness. One of the plot’s turning points, that an unmoderated online discussion board turns into a flame-war (google the term if necessary) is almost yawn worthy and only serves to make the characters’ reactions that much less believable. The fact that Isabelle’s seemingly motiveless harasser is also more Dennis the Menace than Hannibal the Cannibal also makes it difficult to engage with her plight.

Theory continues part of this year's SummerWorks Festival. For more information you could go here in theory.

By Justin Haigh