At some parts, Third Person feels a bit like what I imagine sitting down with Descartes and arguing over the nature of self-determination would be. And I mean that in the best way possible. Brandon Wicke’s play has us situated somewhere with George (Kevin Ray), Byron (Nic Turcotte), and their tent. We never find out where they are or what they’re doing there. They are constantly tormented by a “third person,” an undefined other who writes them messages and seems to know their deepest fears and exactly how they’re going to react in response to everything it throws at them. At first, the effect seems to be most profound on Byron, the seemingly weaker one of the duo, but it soon become evident that it is actually George, who at first seems like the caretaker, that is effected the most. The third person torments him with questions of his own autonomy – how can he have any control over his actions if this other always knows exactly what actions he’s going to take? It’s a classic battle between Determinism and Indeterminism and it’s by no means the only play of its kind. Yet, the production still manages to feel fresh and bring something profound to the table. The idea of the proverbial writing on the wall is a good one, especially since Wicke decides to add in elements of humour and playfulness.
The play even manages to get in some interesting character development and strikes a good balance between the power of the two characters. Despite their outwardly appearance, they both share the responsibility of “taking care” of each other. Even the third person has more to its character than first meets the eye. It’s a cruel entity, alright, in some ways, but there are times when it sounds desperate as it practically begs the boys to stay and try to figure it out. The ending of the play, unsurprisingly, is left open – the two leave in an attempt to “wake up” from the experience (or run away from it?), as the third person continues to reach out and call them back, always present. Both Ray and Turcotte could use some work in terms of their diction and pacing, but from a script and production standpoint, I was more than happy to go on this short, existential journey with them. It’s of note that the show got a standing ovation, a feat not easily achieved on its final night. Definitely worth seeing.
Director and playwright: Brandon Wicke
Stage manager: Megan Holt
Set/costume design: Veronica Derby
Sounds design: Ludwig Müller
Venue technician: Amelia Scott
Production technician: Charlotte Gervais
Kevin Ray: George
Nic Turcotte: Byron