November 2007

No Good Reason by Stephen Baetz
Director — Leslie O'Dell
a Red Socks Company production
November 2 – 10, 2007 Young Centre for The Performing Arts Toronto
A report by David Fujino

Lights up.

It's 1918, the last year of the First World War, and two wounded soldiers are convalescing on the terrace of a hospital in England.

Sam Brook (Mark McGrinder) sits in a wheelchair at stage left and tries to engage the other soldier in conversation.

The other soldier, Will (Chris Stanton), says nothing for the longest time and stands slumped in profile at stage right, dressed in a long khaki army coat and khaki visored cap. Will's face twitches in slow spasms.

Will and Sam are such unlikely acquaintances in this pointedly titled two-hander, No Good Reason. (No good reason for waging this war; no good reason for putting soldiers' lives at risk, as some parts of the dialogue suggest.)

But this is not a preachy anti-war play. Not at all.

It's really about Sam and Will's eventual understanding that, despite their argued-over differences about class, privilege, race and ethnicity, nationalities, family histories, and even their reason for going to war, they can survive their present situation only if they help each other out.

As the last line of the play goes, "We'll have to make it, together."

While the acting was professional and appealingly physical — Stanton deftly kept repositioning a chair on the stage to start off scenes, and there was one good fight scene right down on the floor — the play itself felt overwritten and worse, it seemed the dialogue was there at times to merely push the story along.

But here's the good part of the evening.

No Good Reason was really a relationship play — in other words, an audience-satisfying, lightly stylized performance about two shell-shocked soldiers who learn to help each other get through another day.

Mark McGrinder — Sam Brook
Chris Stanton — Will Dunn
We welcome your comments and feedback
David Fujino
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