Three lads from Burlington do a sterling performance of a complex Harold Pinter play. Expect to see more from Mischa Aravena

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, on   July 30, 2012  Every parent watches anxiously as their children step out onto the stage they will live their lives upon.  For the parents of Mischa and Mel Aravena, that stage was live and part of the Hamilton Fringe Festival that closed on Sunday.

Mel Aravena served as the director of a Harold Pinter play Betrayed, a complex piece that in its day changed the way theatre was done in London’s West End. Mischa Aravena played one of the two male lead roles and Tom Hick’s, their buddy who lives up the street served as co-director.

While Betrayal has endured and is done regularly, it is approached carefully, due to both its complexity and the close to exquisite timing the play calls for.  There is a consistent need throughout  the 90 minute production for those pauses that need to take place – if cut too short the moment is lost and if the pause runs too long the point is lost.

Brothers Mel and Mischa Aravena shift the set that was used in the Harold Pinter play Betrayed, put on as part of the Hamilton Fringe Festival. They did good.

Both Mischa Aravena, Chad Thurlow and Kayla Whelan who did the lion’s portion of the performance – we will get to the Venetian waiter later – did much more than credible jobs of handling the nuance and timing the play called for.

The play consisted of nine scenes which were not presented chronological and that made it a little difficult to follow for those who had never experienced a Pinter play before.

Done in a theatre in the round setting with a set that was sparse but cleverly done the three actors gave us a glimpse of what they bring to live theatre.

What I found, was that at the end of the play, I wasn’t thinking about the subject – betrayal – but I was thinking about the timing that I saw.  Those pauses were close to flawless, and that is not easily done.  The three actors were part of the same diminishing, soul destroying, trust trashing situation – each brought their own self-interest to their part – and each had their own unique way of handling the situations they faced.

It was a fine performance for each.  Thurlow who played the love interest to the wife of his squash playing friend  played by Mischa Aravena.  It was never clear if they ever actually played squash together.

Mischa Aravena plays one of two male lead roles in a Harold Pinter production that was part of the Hamilton Fringe event.

Emma, played by Kayla Whelan, had to adjust who she was, depending on which man she was talking to.  The switch back and forth between wife and lover was both demanding and complex – and done very well.

Aravena was able to evoke the pain of his wife’s betrayal,  the loss of the relationship with a friend and at the same time be himself.

It was a fine production that gave us a look at three young people honing their stage careers.  For their parents, it had to be a very satisfying evening.  In the past few months, Joey Edwardh,  Mother of Mischa and Mel, always had a handful of playbills in her bag which she would hand out to anyone and everyone she met.  She was shameless in the promotion of her boys and her boys left her with much pride and satisfaction.

Mel served as Director, which had to be demanding task, as he brought his acting team to the point where they both understood and felt the lines they were delivering.  The body movement, the inflection and those pauses – you had to have been there to appreciate them, were very well directed.  Watch for these three – we can expect to see more of them – perhaps on the stage of the Performing Arts Centre.

Why, one wonders, could there not be a joint Burlington-Hamilton Fringe Festival – something for the movers and shakers of this city to think about.

Now – to the Venetian waiter.  It was the bit part of bit parts to which Yehuda Fisher brought a touch that leavened the seriousness of the subject betrayal.  Parisian waiters are known for their sang froid, Venetians are apparently known for the time they need to get a cork out of a wine bottle.

The play was said to have been given a Canadian touch – I didn’t see or feel that.  What was evident was the reliance on alcohol to get through a conversation – of note was that neither Aravena or Thurlow ever reached for the Tanqueray gin that was on the always in sight bar – they seemed to favour whiskey – was that the Canadian content?

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