Review: Paco V Put to Sleep

Brianna McFarlane

          The world outside is burning and yet the characters in Paco V Put to Sleep, written by Martin Dockery, can’t seem to do anything about it, let alone save themselves. Directed by Dave Dawson, this show is a fine offering from Blacksheep theatre with a strong script and a capable ensemble. Though it could perhaps be argued that this production could have pushed it further artistically, I appreciated the restraint shown by the director in order to allow the genius of the text to really shine through.

The play itself focuses on what seems to be a typical day in the lives of four characters: Dick D (Mike Kosowan), Paco V (Will Lafrance), Ricky T (Tim Oberholzer), and Jane (Marissa Caldwell). Right away we are shown how passive these characters are as we listen to them try and figure out whose responsibility it is to get food, or pay the television bill, or (most importantly) fix the television remote. It isn’t until Dick’s parents arrive that things start happening out of the ordinary. When Paco falls asleep inexplicably and is unable to be awoken by the others we begin to fully realize how counterproductive these characters actually are. A wonderfully absurd work, Dockery explores just how little people can do in a given situation.

The stage design is kept simple and minimal with only the most necessary objects on stage: a coat hanger, a couch, a television set, a chair and a gobo of a window. With the cable in the house having been disconnected, the window is our only link to the outside world. Though the exterior changes rapidly, the events taking place outside never seem to affect the world of the interior. If anything, these potentially disastrous events as narrated by the characters themselves serve to highlight their sheer incompetent nature.

The cast does an excellent job with this script. Kosowan as Dick D has great demeanor on stage and his reactions are always on par. Oberholzer as Ricky T brings some nice moments to the piece during his monologues about his inner struggle trying to decide whether or not to quit “scoopin’.” Jane, played by Caldwell, is perhaps the most reasonable character of the group though more often than not she is ignored by the other characters. Caldwell delivers her lines in a lazy air with a touch of impatience which serves to give her dialogue a decidedly passive undertone. Celine Filion and Jeff Lefebvre as Dick’s parents bring a hilariously adorable ignorance to the show and Lafrance as Paco V certainly deserves to be commended for maintaining presence while “sleeping” through the majority of the show.

Overall, I thought Blacksheep Theatre does a commendable job with this original script. While perhaps the tensions and the stakes could have been pushed a little bit further, I enjoyed watching these characters accomplish absolutely nothing despite the fact that their world is literally burning around them.  This script takes you on a journey into the land of the mundanely absurd though it isn’t by any means a bore.