The Facts Behind the Helsinki Roccamatios

Thursday Theatre Review: The Facts Behind the Helsinki Roccamatios

The Facts Behind the Helsinki Roccamatios, written by Yann Martel, is part of the Performance Spring Festival at Factory Theatre which brings national productions to Toronto. The festival is in it's second year and it's looking like it's going to become a staple at Factory Theatre.

The Facts Behind the Helsinki Roccamatios is an interesting exploration into the mind of a man who supported a friend as he was dying of AIDS. It's also a bit of a quicky history lesson. Only one actor takes the stage for this show, although upon occasion there is more than one character. The show is a narrative, it tells a story, a reminiscence of years past.

When I asked John (my show-partner for this one) what he thought of the play he said he felt it was "well put together and emotionally solid show". I'm not entirely sure how that translates, it sounds to me like he was impressed but not blown away. I can totally see how that would happen with this show.

The staging is slick and includes very clever use of a slide projector (yes, a slide projector, remember those?), a music stand, netting at the back of the stage and a clothes line. The set is minimal, but very effective. It's hard not to be impressed by the thought that went into that part. But the show itself started out a bit flat for me.

I have to admit, in the first bit of the play I was thinking I wasn't going to like it. It's hard to pin down why. John said that for him the neutral delivery of lines by Eric Goulem was distracting. I think he might be right, the feeling of attending a university lecture when expecting to attend a play is disquieting. However, as the show progressed I came to really appreciate the neutral voice because of the juxtaposition it allowed during the moments filled with emotion. By the time I walked out of the play I loved it and felt let Goulem had nailed it.

So, my advice on this one? Go check it out, but give it a bit of a chance, don't expect a powder-keg beginning, let it get under your skin a bit before you judge it.

- The Facts Behind the Helsinki Roccamatios runs from May 21st- May 25th at Factory Theatre (125 Bathurst)
- Tuesday-Thursday at 8pm $23; Friday at 8pm: Saturday at 8pm: $31
- more information through the box office at 416-504-9971

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