“it’s dark,” caolan leander is perched on our coffee table at midnight on a friday. we’re talking about the webshow he wrote and is starring in, untogether. it’s been the subject of probably 78% of our conversations since we moved in together two months previously. “…it’s hard to describe.”
despite his astoundingly eloquent way with the written word, caolan – like me – has more than a hint of social inability when it comes to expressing things out loud. most of our time is spent yelling obscenities at one another, or other people.
“but it’s funny? is it supposed to be funny?”
“i don’t know. there are funny moments. it’s a dark comedy.”
“i know but you’re not being helpful…okay, compare it to a movie.”
there’s a pause. the three of us (caolan, luca asselin – who plays the supporting male, frankie – and i) have been drinking the bottle of whiskey that was purchased as a prop for the first episode. we’re all swaying on spot a bit.
“rules of attraction?” caolan says finally. another pause.
after a while, i say “i haven’t seen that.” here’s where the yelling obscenities at each other begins.
untogether is the story of an unemployed twentysomething named gus, on the path to self destruction, and the friends, lovers and trouble makers he meets along the way. caolan is right, it’s dark, but it’s also a decidedly poignant representation of being young and lost in montreal. i hadn’t heard the script yet, but caolan had been referring to everyone in the cast by the names of their characters for most of the summer. i felt like i knew them already, so when i arrived home from a couple (many) apres-work beers at a friend’s house to find caolan and luca in my living room running lines, it didn’t automatically occur to me to introduce myself. luca is almost painfully good looking, in a way that makes me act like more of a girl than i am. perfect for the role of frankie, a level-headed (if at times insensitive) guy who is best friends with gus – caolan’s role, which is likewise perfect for him. gus is neurotic and a bit socially inept, but lovable. and relatable, despite his complete psychoness. or perhaps becuse of it, i’m not sure, and that’s what’s so great about him.
the next morning, filming begins. caolan is in full on real person mode. i, on the other hand, am curled up on the floor of the kitchen sipping coffee and trying to answer emails. once the director, jack, and his wife sorren, who is the sound technician/set designer (power couple of the century, i know) arrive, everyone puts on their real person hat, and the whole thing becomes, well…real. the scene is lit, caolan is borderline freak out in the kitchen, luca is doing that thing that you think is just a made up theatre folk stereotype – you know, the facial exercises and absurd sounds? lion face, lemon face? it’s all very professional. meanwhile, as usual, i’ve cracked a beer and am taking pretend notes while simultaneously trying to take photos and not throw up.
i’ve said this before, but…i could never be an actor. i hadn’t realized how much patience it takes – and patience is something i have very little of. luckily, the first take goes off without a hitch. a good sign for the rest of the weekend of filming. it’s my first time seeing the scene in its entirety. up until then i’d only heard snippets, which somehow ended up being the same couple lines every time. i’m one of those people that’s just incapable of fake laughing. i just can’t do it, it isn’t in me, but to my relief, no faking it is necessary. i don’t want to give anything away, but untogether’s is that particular brand of humour where the response would generally be “what?! you were all thinking it!”
written entirely by caolan over a two month period earlier this year (an incredible feat in itself), the show takes place over seven episodes, all set in montreal. if you don’t recognize at least one relationship you’ve had amongst the relationships in untogether, you’re doing montreal wrong. although the series touches on parts of caolan’s own history, the show is the clever meeting point of truth, and the lies the we tell ourselves. you’ve probably been or been with a gus at some point (i’ve done both), your best friend might be frankie, you slept with jack once or twice. what’s special about untogether is that, even though both caolan and luca stepped completely out of themselves when the camera was rolling, there was some glimmer – if only for a moment – of each of them in their characters. and for a second, i saw some of me, too.