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Intimate Dining

Jon Kaplan

In his exploration of the last three hours in the life of a terminally ill man, Hillar Liitoja tones down his sometimes imaginative excess to tell a story in small-scale, human terms.

Set in a time when euthanasia is legal, the play follows in minute detail the last meal and farewells of the terminally ill but optimistic dancer Chris (Ken McDougall) and his photographer lover Val (Jim Allodi) and Chris’ humane death at the hands of his doctor (Sky Gilbert).

The performances are committed – especially McDougall’s, delivered with laboured breathing and in a raspy, whispered voice. The space design by Steve Lucas and Liitoja – with an emphasis on ripe fruit and rich tapestries – is also detailed, as is Liitoja’s loud soundscape of classical music.

Given the situation, daily ephemera – played out in real time – are given enormous final meanings. The production draws the audience along emotionally much of the time, but it’s not a theatrical journey that everyone will want to take.

NOW Magazine
October 28 / November 3, 1993