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O.C.Dean Review

April 18, 2013

When the subject matter of a play is something like, say, obsessive compulsive disorder, the presenters run the risk of coming across as crusaders who have gamely attached themselves to a worthy cause and whose purpose is to raise awareness with a show that isn’t so much a theatrical piece as it is a public service commercial.

The first thing you should know about Daniel Maslany’s “O.C.Dean” is that the play does not include a soapbox, either literally or metaphorically. The topic is treatedOCDEAN_showart sympathetically and with much empathy for those who suffer from the condition, and the people in their lives who are affected by it, but at the heart of this one-man show is a storyteller, not a preacher.

Created by Maslany for Globe Theatre’s developmental Shumiatcher Sandbox Series, and performed in the Templeton Studio Cabaret, “O.C.Dean” consists of a sequence of anecdotes delivered as personal recollections by the title character, an endearing but troubled young man who works in a warehouse of an office supplies company, lives in the basement of his parents’ home, and has a burning passion for photography.

Initially, the mood is light and humorous, as Maslany introduces the audience to Dean and fills us in on his personality and his phobias. The script is amusing and at times laugh-out-loud funny. As the story unfolds, however, the tension increases and the comedy gives way to drama as the 60-minute show winds to its suspenseful conclusion.

As a writer, Maslany will impress you with his intellect and his command of the language. As an actor, he makes his character believable, most notably through a vocal delivery that speeds up and slows down as the stress levels dictate, and the way that Dean looks at the audience not eye-to-eye but with head bowed slightly and sideways glances.

The location shifts back and forth from warehouse to basement, but the evocative nature of the piece is such that it might as well be a psychologist’s (or psychiatrist’s) office. Indeed, at various points there is also a strong suggestion of the confessional booth at a Catholic church. Be it counselor or clergyman, the image you have in your head as you’re watching is that of a person sitting across from Dean, and what the voice you hear in your head is saying to Dean is: “Yes, go on … Please continue … What happened next?”

Bottom line: this is a good story well-told.

O.C.Dean” is staged by Anthony Black, with Laura Anne Harris serving as his assistant director. The sound and lighting, designed by Maslany and by Patrick James, and operated by Rob Phillipson, is minimalist. Black and Michael Scholar contributed to the dramaturgy, and stage manager Lisa Russell sees to it that everything is done in an organized and orderly fashion.

O.C.Dean runs from April 11 – 20, 2013. Visit the Globe Theatre website for more details, cast information, and to purchase tickets.

Nick Miliokas is a freelance writer and editor based in Regina. You can reach him by email at rozenstern@rocketmail.com.

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