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15 Seconds

2 Male, 2 Female

Francois Archambault Price: $12.95

Brimming with a dark and brittle humour, Fifteen Seconds is a play about a young female advertising copy writer, her pro-sports-fan ex-boyfriend, a Gen-X welfare-bum loser and his brother handicapped by cerebral palsy

These four characters are constantly making choices about reality and illusion; imagination and fantasy; the hale and the handicapped - about the way things are and the way they might be

The play's characters each exist in their worlds utterly without context, objectified to the point where their fantasies about who they might have been are all that define them to themselves, and who they superficially appear to be is all that defines them to each other

They are utterly unable to bridge this gulf and imagine each other, and though they all remember that they should try to do so, they seem to have forgotten from where this moral imperative emanates

It is from this vestigial organ of empathy that much of the humour of the play is derived

While the inability of such profoundly superficial and alienated characters to understand each other (in a context where the audience is made to feel it understands them all very well) is the stock-in-trade of stand-up comedians and variety shows, Fifteen Seconds does something completely unexpected with this material - the audience is deprived of its traditional cathartic closure, and does not get to feel smug and morally superior after visiting with these characters

It is the characters themselves who, in their irredeemable banality, pronounce their own verdicts of condemnation. In the end, chance reigns supreme in a world where fifteen seconds of inattention or error can, and in fact does, irrevocably determine the shape of an entire lifetime

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