A Lesson in Brio, playwright and director Stewart Lemoine’s latest for Teatro la Quindicina, opens as a literal lesson. One Dr. Guinevere (played by Jenny McKillop) takes to the stage to give us, theatre-goers cum students, a talk about “brio”, or as the dictionary defines it, “enthusiastic vigour; vivacity; verve.”
To demonstrate the concept, she stages examples of brio in everyday life: enlisting local actors named Rachel Bowron, Patricia Cerra and Mathew Hulshof (played by Bowron, Patricia Cerra and Mathew Hulshof). Among the characters they play are: a man who is dumped for being too dumb, a singer who can barely sing, a nerdy little girl, and a piano mover who always wanted “to bring music into people’s lives.”
As Dr. Guinevere breaks down the role of brio in these vignettes, she also deconstructs the performances and addresses the audience directly. Although they were part of a fictional lesson, it was hard not to feel invested in the fate of these educational avatars.
My observant Fringe buddy Jenna was reminded of Lemoine’s Stump the Panel, a one-act play at the 2016 Fringe, which was staged as a public consultation meeting for a condo development. Jenna said, “He’s taking things that are like performances, but aren’t, and putting them on stage.”
Early in his career, Lemoine was known for setting plays tinged with absurdity in exotic, middle European locales. A Lesson in Brio is a good example of his recent work, plays that highlight the theatricality–and vivacity–of everyday life.
A Lesson in Brio is being held over at the Varscona Theatre.
Holdover Tickets: https://tickets.teatroq.com/f/2018/a-lesson-in-brio