Review: The Anorak by Adam Kelly Morton, at the Hope theatre

Felix Brunger in The Anorak. Photo Robert Clough

Felix Brunger in The Anorak. Photo Robert Clough

The Anorak, Adam Kelly Morton’s one man play, is an audacious difficult-to-ignore proposition: On December 6th 1989 Marc Lepine – armed with an automatic weapon and a knife – arrived at the Ecole Polytechnic of The University of Montreal and started a killing spree. Women were his particular target but his victims were a more diverse group. The incident became known as the Montreal Massacre. It’s a dreadful thing to say but a killing spree is much the same as another. Unless it’s about someone we know.

Mark Lepine himself is the someone we get to know. Much of his experience is ordinary: divorced parents, social awkwardness in adolescence, uncertainty about his place in the world. Occasionally something darker surfaces: his conflicted view of women, his disgust – or is it self-disgust? – for those in need. Still none of these can explain what’s about to happen.

As much as we linger in Lepine’s mind, his victims make a vivid impression. Is that the author or the character? Has the executioner such a clear understanding of his victims? Is the author betraying the character, in order to give us a moral anchor?

The monologue is delivered with irrepressible urgency by Felix Brunger. His Lepine projects a suffocated energy, like slipping underwater. He is engaging, inquisitive and good company but for the fact he is trapped in his own head.

That is a problem for the play itself: after a chilling, revelatory explanation of his choice of weapon, Lepine starts to retrace the same ground. In the last thirty minutes, he killer is revealed as a self-indulgent creature and the play is unable to resist the same path.

So we finish where we began: with bloodshed and a vision of hell of our own making. I still don’t understand the unfathomable. Can anyone?

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