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Wednesday August 10, 2016

 

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By Deborah Rankin

There are few things more unseemly than sexual harassment and the ugly round of accusations, denials, and counter-accusations that ensue when an employee decides to take down an employer for inappropriate conduct and it’s all laid out in Infinitheatre’s stylish production of Oren Safdie’s play Unseamly , co-directed by Guy Sprung and Sarah Carlsen at Le Bain St-Michel.

Safdie borrows a page for the stage from real life, drawing his inspiration from his cousin Dov Charney, CEO of American Apparel, who apparently beat the rap on a number of sexual harassment claims, a thought that should strike fear in the heart of any parent of an impressionable teenage girl aspiring to a career in the fashion industry.

In this fictionalized account a sweet young thing of 17 named Malina (Arlen Aguayo Stewart) consults with a lawyer Adam (Howard Rosenstein) of a struggling law firm about filing a sexual harassment suit against her former employer Ira Slatsky (Jonathan Silver), the CEO of a leading-edge clothing retailer that Malina refers to simply as “the standard.”

Slatsky’s a cunning son-of-a-gun and waits until Malina’s 18th birthday before seducing her in a scene that resembles rape a lot more than seduction.  He’s the virtual prototype of a sexual predator, the kind who thinks that his ‘sexploits’ give him street cred and that principled hard-working guys like Adam are schmucks who don’t get how the game is being played. That’s when he’s not congratulating himself for being a model corporate citizen who does right by his employees and promotes their advancement.  

Malina continues a relationship with the foul-mouthed fashion tycoon for eight months until she decides that she’s had enough of his abusive behaviour which culminates in Slatsky demanding that she come over to his house to perform sexual favors for a quadriplegic.

Malina’s got some fight in her, perhaps owing to her indigenous survivalist roots, so she refuses to back down when Adam advises her that her claim might not be winnable, that is until he realizes that the timeline of a pivotal decision means that her actions were coerced because she was a minor. At this point he begins to enthuse that her lawsuit is no longer a “case”, but a “cause”, and one which will  become a cause celebre when the media get a hold of it.

Slatsky’s also a survivor, albeit a different kind, and one not to be shaken down by an ingrate, in his view, and the play leaves the audience hanging as to what the verdict will be, highlighting the ambiguity inherent in so many sexual harassment cases.

Arlen Aguayo Stewart strikes just the right balance between sweet, sexy, and plucky, while Howard Rosenstein is so convincing in his part, with his cautionary demeanor and command of legalese, that he could actually be a lawyer.  Jonathan Silver delivers the ultimate performance, embodying the role of the loathsome sleaze-bag boss.

The set features a multi-media backdrop with store mannequins, dollar signs, travel brochure imagery, and close-up images of Malina and Slatsky projected onto a screen as they each tell the audience their version of events while the action proceeds on stage. The story unfolds through a series of flashbacks and the main sex scene, choreographed by Amy Blackmore, shows the tug-of-war between Malina and Slatsky and the tension over whose truth will prevail.

This is an issue play, but it works as art.    

Unseamly , by Oren Safdie, is playing  at Le Bain St-Michel until March 9. You can click here to purchase tickets online.

 

 

 

Last Night at the Gayete

last-night-gayete-intro


By Deborah Rankin

The Centaur Theatre's 2015-2016 season is drawing to a close with its final production of Last Night at the Gayety, a musical comedy by Bowser & Blue which runs until May 22nd.

Read more

 

A society made up of different cultures must seek unity in respect.

by Pope Francis

Father Dowd Trust Fund

Paul Donovan walks the Camino Ignatiano

Follow former Loyola High School principal, Paul Donovan, as he walks the famous 700km Camino Ignatiano.

camino-ignatiano-map

 

Read his blog

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