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Fringe Review: Model Wanted uses an effective device

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Inspired by a real-life New Brunswick murder, Model Wanted is a fierce examination of poverty, substance abuse, and sexuality.

What drives someone to kill?  In Model Wanted, playwright Step Taylor posits that it can be a combination of factors that can lead to murder.

Inspired by a real-life New Brunswick murder, Model Wanted is a fierce examination of poverty, substance abuse, and sexuality.

Inspired by a real-life New Brunswick murder, Model Wanted effectively uses its non-linear timeline to tell its story.

Based on the 2011 real-life murder of Jason Dow in Saint John, Taylor has crafted Model Wanted into a non-linear play that jumps between the night of the murder and some key moments in the life of the young killer, Ross.  Those key moments are designed to provide us with some clues as to what pressures may have led this young man to break.

While Taylor exposes his drug use and struggles of a young man living as part of a single-parent household, it fails to explore fully Jason’s internalized homophobia, arguably the most compelling reason as to why he would turn to murder.

Jesse LaVercombe brings an intensity to Ross and is particularly effective as the young teen gets progressively drunk leading up to the murder.  Adrian Shepherd-Gawinksi is the perfectly smarmy as the victim and there is some genuine chemistry between the two that in knowing what is about to happen (the play begins with the murder) makes it all a little more creepy.  Grace Fitzpatrick and Kayla Deorkson bring solid work as the mother and the lesbian boarder fighting effectively against some of their clichés.

While its non-linear form is an effective device to tell this “what if” story, the playwright ultimately refuses to condemn or absolve Ross for his actions, leaving that up to us.  I’m still on the fence.

Model Wanted

Written and directed by Step Taylor.  A Friendly Haters Theatre Company production as part of the 2013 Vancouver Fringe Festival.  On stage at the Revue Stage on Granville Island  through September 15, 2013.  Visit http://vancouverfringe.com for exact showtimes and tickets.

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