Presented by Port Albert Productions
“I don’t think this place likes me very much.”
This ominous line occurs early in writer-director Taylor Marie Graham’s darkly evocative Corporate Finch. We’re not yet worried about Jake (Matthew Ivanoff), though we soon will be. His friend Finch (Rainbow Kester) might not have his best interests at heart. As they descend into the depths of an abandoned factory in St. Jacobs, Ontario, we gradually discover the unsettling history of this teenage friendship.
Taking full advantage of the narrow angularity of Theatre Passe Muraille’s Backspace, we first encounter Jake and Finch up in the catwalk, lit by their single flashlight. He cuts his finger on some rusty metal and we just sort of know that it’s an icky bit of foreshadowing of what’s to come.
Ivanoff maintains a distinctive, relentless behavioural tick that reminded me of Crispin Glover as George McFly. His hands and arms twitch and curl as he nervously clutches at himself. It’s undeniably affected yet it also, strangely, feels authentic—as if, on some level, Jake’s vulnerability is somehow… deliberate.
When he fully passes out, leaving us alone with Finch, our hackles are raised. She’s not at all fazed. She addresses us directly and begins to weave the tale of their childhood and his history of fainting spells. Kester makes direct eye contact with whomever she can, pulls us into Finch’s confidence. As she takes his limp hand in her’s, hovering intrusively over his unconscious body, she finds an eerie balance between the sinister and nurturing.
Graham’s script and the persuasive performances meander gently through a subtly haunting interaction. We’re drawn inexorably into the sweet, awful and outright traumatic accumulation of events leading to where they are now. With minimal artifice save for distinctive lighting, sound and physicality, the tension builds.
Who is in control and how is always in flux. Just as we settle into an understanding of their situation, the nature of it shifts. The violence at the end, however, felt far less intense than the fraught moments leading up to it, which had me on the edge of my seat.
This is a tender, disturbing mediation on youthful connection and the precarious phenomenon of trust.