The final Ottawa production of A Leave of Absinthe was certainly entertaining at times, but it somehow failed to rise to its potential. Perhaps fittingly – in relation to a play about drunk people entertaining one another – the actors seemed to find themselves a bit more entertaining than they actually were, at least most of the time.
Much was made of the three supposed stages of absinthe intoxication, though they did not actually end up seeming terribly distinct. Some of the cleverest bits of the performance centred around wordplay, the more engaging character vignettes, and the ongoing interactions of the four actors with a large doll that played a focal role. In particular, the trouser-wearing lesbian character managed to play off an entertaining seduction of the inanimate figure.
In the end, perhaps the opportunities for celebrating absinthe with a sober audience are limited. Alternatively, it may have been that the show lost a bit of its vim as it progressed through the festival.