August 19, 2010
“The universe is perfect,” announces an East Indian guru to the audience gathered to see Bad Connections?, “and if you are here it was because you were meant to.”
Stop, look, listen — the universe is trying to tell you something: try and nab a ticket to the one man show Bad Connections?
Paul Cosentino plays “nine eccentric New Yorkers” on a rainy Manhattan day in the play directed by Thom Forgarty. Don’t read into “eccentric” as being sitcom archetypes, rather these characters are each fully-defined thanks to Cosentino’s breathtaking skill at switching from one voice to the next.
A diverse assortment of hapless beings are on display: the after-mentioned guru, a sassy pregnant Puerto Rican woman unleashing obscenities to everyone within earshot after losing her purse; a wise-guy Italian shopkeeper wrestling with his dying grandfather; a young boy innocent to the turmoil overtaking his family; a doctor who can seemingly help others but not himself and his Jewish wife who yearns for some attention; and a gay yoga instructor trying hard to keep his life together.
All live separate lives yet they are connected through their actions and the forces of fate.
Characters wrestle with their feelings while on the phone, face to face, or in Catholic confession.
“I don’t take pleasure in making you cry,” the doctor tries to make clear to his wife, who has admitted to her therapist that she’s become the Invisible Woman in her 50s.
The ailing man confides to the other patient in his hospital room about “seeing the light” and looks forward to passing to a place where “you’re always forgiven.”
During a downward facing dog stretch, the yoga instructor frets over his secret lover’s indecisiveness: “What’s the point of having free will if you don’t exercise it?”
Sometimes their lines of communication break down, but as the guru says, “the connections either help or hinder you.”
Playwright Michael Levesque builds the storylines until the crucial juncture where everyone comes together. No detail is overlooked, even a simple pair of Pez dispensers carry significance that becomes apparent as the 90-minute play unfolds. Cosentino proves to be a master of his craft as he handles every accent and nuance with flair. Excited audience members were seen after the show counting the different characters with their fingers, recalling favourite lines.
“Miracles don’t happen, they are always there,” the guru reiterates to the audience towards the end.
Bad Connections? is a miracle of theatre, a Fringe connection you must make.