SpeakEasy Theatre's 321

An old garage strewn with junk, lawn chairs, a set of tires doing service as a table base — this sets the scene for Nathan Cuckow and Chris Craddock’s 3…2…1, presented by SpeakEasy Theatre, now on for a limited run at Granville Island’s Studio 1398.

The 75-minute, one-act play starts off with two drinking buddies going through the motions of getting drunk. Beer cans are popped open, Jack Daniels shots are downed, and other recreational drugs are at the ready as Clinton (Tom Krushkowski) and Kyle (Markian Tarasiuk) get their stories into the open. A good portion of the play centers around their missing friend Danny, who we later learn about through Markian Tarasiuk’s dual and equally compelling performance.

SpeakEasy Theatre's 321
[L to R: Tom Krushkowski, Markian Tarasiuk]

Themes of homophobia, small-town life, alcoholism and broken families embody heavy scenes that involve mature content, strobe lights, sexual situations, violence, coarse language and references to Wetaskiwin, Alberta.

The two actors present a physical play that starts out party-hearty and gains momentum as the two frustrated characters reveal their greatest fear: going nowhere in life. There’s not much to do in these parts, aside from playing stick hockey on the garage floor, getting drunk and fantasizing about the world outside their little Catholic town.

You’re in for a roller coaster ride here as both Markian Tarasiuk (Kosmic Mambo, Grease) and Tom Krushkowski (Kosmic Mambo, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest) are highly-talented young actors on the rise.

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Director Kayvon Kelly knows small-town life as he was raised in a racist, homophobic community in Saskatoon. Even after having long left the area, upon returning home, he saw that not much had changed. He explains in the program notes that this mentality comes from fear and ignorance and asks theater goers to go easy on the two main characters, for they’re ”doing the best they can with the world they have been given.”

SpeakEasy Theatre's 321

During the first couple of scenes, I thought the show would be a simple goof-off fest, however this play takes a few pretty harsh, difficult themes and presents the audience with a highly personal, in-your-face experience. I sat in the front row and felt both actors’ energy from a couple of meters away.

3…2…1’s a highly physical play that drops a ton of f-bombs, serving to punctuate their frustrated predicament while combining both humour and sadness.

Equally compelling is the risk SpeakEasy Theatre took in making this a Pay What You Decide production. If you don’t like the show, leave nothing. If you thought it was great, pay what you think it’s worth. This is the first time a Canadian theater company’s gone this direction. It’ll be interesting to see how they fare over the course of the remaining seven performances.

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Opening night saw the venue about half full; I’m guessing word of mouth and social media will get this show the attention – and audience – it greatly deserves.

Directed by Kayvon Kelly, 3…2…1 continues at Studio 1398 through November 8. Photos by Ryan McDonald.

1 Comment

  • Comment by Ryan McDonald — November 4, 2015 @ 3:27 pm

    Great show, a pleasure to shoot. Go, have a beer, enjoy.

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