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Cul-de-Sac, a monologue created by the da da kamera team of Daniel MacIvor and Daniel Brooks, with MacIvor as Leonard and other characters, directed by Brooks. It premiered at the Berkeley Street Theatre Downstairs in 2003, and is published by Talonbooks (2005). The play is set on a bare stage with a spotlit black chair and a bank of lights upstage. The sound of rain gradually builds into a storm, and a crash of thunder and blinding flash of lightning announce the beginning of a reflection on mortality by Leonard, a lonely gay man during the last few minutes of his life. His expiring moan has permeated the neighborhood in the cul-de-sac, and its significance becomes the subject of speculation by his neighbours - all played by the versatile MacIvor. As Leonard explain, his last moments on earth had more impact than his previous fifteen years.

Leonard wants to tell his story, but he doubts it is worth telling, and he doesn't know where to begin - how far to go back in the chain of causality that reached the dead end of his life. Like the Stage Manager in Wilder's Our Town, Leonard introduces his neighbours: a bickering couple, whose sexual encounters are too infrequent to suit the wife; a retired veterinarian who believes he has fulfilled the death wish of animals; the G & S aficionado who knows all about the aesthetic tastes of Leonard's former lover; and a perceptive and cynical 12-year-old girl who is writing a book about a balsa wood astronaut, which ignites when it passes through the earth's atmosphere. She has befriended Leonard and understands his isolation and difference, but at the neighbourhood Christmas party, she betrays him to her own despised father. Desperately in search of human contact, Leonard approaches a homophobic male prostitute, and when he cannot pay the demanded fee, he is beaten to death.

As in his other plays, MacIvor combines black comedy with poignant tragedy, balancing hope and despair, choice and fate in the life of a socially marginalized individual. As critic Jerry Wasserman points out in his introduction to Never Swim Alone : "Creating offbeat plays that intimately connect performer and audience; maintaining firm artistic control as well as personal involvement as actor or director - [is] MacIvor's hallmark. His best work involves the simplicity of a single actor or two or three on a nearly bare stage spinning a bizarre but compelling narrative with precisely choreographed theatricality" (Modern Canadian Plays Vol II, p. 289).

Commentary by Anne Nothof

Last updated 2019-05-22