by Elizabeth Johnston
Don’t be afraid of the press line, “I AM I is an exploration into the duality of the modern man.” Mike Czuba’s play appearing now at the Wildside Theatre Festival is not nearly as cerebral as you might think. At the heart of it, I AM I is about a guy trying to get a girl. One side of him wants to jump her bones and the other wants to take it slow, to get to know her first.
A Woody Allenesque comedy, the actors deliver their well-written lines with passion and believability. Man 1, the sensitive one played by Canadian Idol contestant George Bekiaris is a perfect foil for lusty Man 2, played by Tristan D. Lalla, a recipient of numerous awards for acting excellence. While Man 1 and Man 2 wrestle over their object of desire, Tamara Brown’s character, Sonya, struggles to make sense of the Jekyll and Hide personality of a guy she’s sort of interested in. Having just come out of a “difficult relationship,” she’s not sure whether she just wants an ear or a grope in the dark. Her indecision makes it that much harder for Man 1 and Man 2 to come together, and Tai Timbers’ live electric guitar “sound track” just underscores their existential angst.
Writer Czuba has his characters allude to Shakespeare and experiment with the fourth wall to include the audience in the drama. This seems to elevate I AM I beyond the baser concerns of life and demonstrate the universality of the play’s themes. Yet, for all its cleverness, the underlying assumption in the play appears to be that women have it more together than men. Sonya accepts her carnal desires, which speaks volumes for her sexual emancipation. The men, on the other hand, seem to have a long way to go, baby.
I am I is at Wildside.