Characters make Unidentified Human Remains

If beat poet/writer William Burroughs and Douglas Coupland were to write an episode of ‘Friends,’ the result might come out like Unidentified Human Remains and the True Nature of Love.
The TheatreXtra Production of the Brad Fraser play, which premiered at the David Spinks Theatre last night, is the darker, more disturbed and damaged version of the beloved television characters.
 They listen to Nirvana, take  Andrea Montgomery and Jay Whitehead. photo by Richard Amerydrugs, experiment with their sexuality and try to figure out who they are and who to love while a serial killer runs amok in Edmonton in the early ’90s. A killer who may be among them.
 Jay Whitehead heads a talented cast as David, who sets the tone for a play about friendship in a pretty dark setting — one marked by AIDS, depression and the serial killer, with the first line  of the play “Hello , I’m homo,” which started the audience laughing.
 It’s a weird  play, which could easily turn into a train wreck without the cast’s impeccable comedic and dramatic timing. The characters sit still on the stage, and  emit adjectives and phrases like “Everybody Lies,”  and “Love doesn’t exist,’ as a spotlight shines on them  and  the individual set pieces including a bar and a restaurant table as fast as they can speak.
 David is a failed actor turned  waiter and ‘professional faggot,’ he is droll, sarcastic, outspoken and kind of sinister, but can break any tense situation with an unusual and hilarious remark, which almost always comes right out of left field. he reminds me of Dave Foley’s character in ‘Blast From the Past.’
Up on the balcony lurks, Benita , played by a Lindie Last, who is a psychic, and possibly a prostitute who sings sinister children’s songs and explains the background of the situation.
Andrea Montgomery is a highlight as Candy, looking for love in all the wrong places including bartender Robert, played  superbly by a seething Kyle Collins and lesbian gym partner Jerri (Dana Welz).
Kane (Ryan Reese) lusts after David while trying to figure out who he is and ends up accidentally saving Candy’s life.
Alan Johnson does a superb job  of playing the most disturbed character in the play, Bernie who is alternately a   lovelorn drunk and a psychopath.
 The biggest problem with the production other than a misplaced ringing phone sound effect is  the location of the futon and the bed, where most of the activity takes place on this sparse and spacious stage. They are placed right next to the front row of the audience, which makes it impossible to see what is happening if you are sitting in the back row. So you miss  Montgomery’s rubber faced facial expressions and Whitehead’s reactions to them
 The theatre is so vast that it wouldn’t have hurt to have moved these important set pieces a bit further back.
Other than that, if you are in the mood for some pretty dark  humour, some rich language and frank talk about sexuality and a group of Generation Xers bonding in tough times, then check it out.
Unidentified Human Remains and the True Nature of Love, runs at 8 p.m. March 5 and 6 in the David Spinks Theatre in addition to a  2 p.m. matinee, March 6. Tickets are  $11 regular and $7 for students and seniors.
— By Richard Amery, L.A Beat Editor
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