By Luke Dodge
“Any Questions?” looks deep into ourselves and asks us to discover the question(s) which matters most. We begin our discovery on a set, simplistic to the point of being abstract, consisting of a few black blocks and a handful of small props. When not in a scene the actors sit unobtrusively on the backline in full view of the audience, adding to the already surreal feel.
Alli (Casey Jane) is a school teacher who wakes up to discover she can only speak in questions and phones her mother (Nancy Marcy) for support, who has an answer for everything. Alli speaking only in questions is a fun twist and surprisingly not distracting which is a credit to the writing. Nancy plays the quintessential know-it-all mother to a T, delivering quips and one-liners in the midst of her daughter’s breakdown. Casey’s manic energy lets her effortlessly fire question after question after question without seeming to tire.
After breaking down in front of her students Alli turns to the psychologist Enola (Amber McKinnon) for help. Amber’s calm and collected performance is the perfect foil to balance the high-strung energy Casey brings into a scene. As Alli revisits her past we learn of her relationship with her former husband Rob (Matthew J. Williamson). Matthew slips into the role of husband and former soldier as if it were made for him.
Casting for this well crafted production is spot on with each character having a life and energy of its own, different but complementary to the others. Organic edits using light cues seamlessly transition us from scene to scene while the clever use of lighting and empty space maintains a dreamlike quality.
“Any Questions?” touches on heavy topics such as the insecurity of men and women, the similarities and differences between these insecurities, social conceptions of gender roles, and other difficult perceptions we develop about ourselves. Doubt and the fear of being the wrong person plagues the character’s choices, leaving them questioning themselves at every turn. Luckily, well-timed comedy helps release the building tension in the emotionally charged final scenes.
How am I affecting the lives of others? And is it for the better or worse? Alli is confronted with the fact she doesn't have the answers and must look inside herself to find the them. Or maybe finding the right question is the hardest part