Intricate Rituals by York DramaSoc at theSpace Triplex is a monologue with alternating actors. The role of Siken is played by Izzy Baxter on odd-numbered dates and on the even-numbered nights by Luke McDonald, whose performance I saw.
Written and directed by Seth Douglas, a combination that is often not a good idea, it’s billed as a piece ‘about queer longing, catholic guilt, bugs and necromancy’. There’s also a mouse thrown in, trapped in a box located at the corner of the downstage which Siken addresses from a rather awkward angle in the centre. Cast as ‘your average gay university student’, whatever that is, McDonald does possess a considerable measure of ordinariness. The main flaw, however, is that his poor enunciation leaves much of the script unintelligible. What might be key moments in the story are often lost and he only reaches the emotional intensity of which he is capable in the final scene.
The story of Siken’s unrequited love is wrapped around the tragedy that befalls the straight best friend whom he idolises. This leads Siken to find bizarre remedies to cure his condition that come from a bygone age and that no rational person would dream of pursuing. He also seems to find some consolation and meaning in the allegory of the ants.
If the rituals he espouses are intricate, the play as a whole certainly is not, though its concept and tight scene structure don’t leave it beyond redemption. For the time being, however, it is singularly unimpressive, unless Izzy Baxter makes a better job of it.