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Logan and I a tale of transformation Play written by Halifax’s Michael McPhee opens Queer Act fest By ANDREA NEMETZ Entertainment Reporter Sun. Jul 18 - 4:52 AM

IF ONE of the characters in Logan and I, a play premiering Tuesday at the Queer Acts Theatre Festival, is accused of giving a plastic performance, it won’t be a lie.

Glen Matthews, who plays Logan, and Michael McPhee, as Dezzy, think Megatron — the leader of the evil Decepticons from the popular Transformers universe of toys, comics, TV and movies — could be a third character. "The Megatron character is integral to the play," McPhee says.

In fact, the play’s producers, The Doppler Effect, a new theatre company founded by McPhee and Annie Valentina, have spent a lot of time and money on eBay tracking down a Transformers collection. (McPhee’s mother gave his away.)

Megatron alone cost $100 and has his own screwdriver to tighten all his screws after each rehearsal.

"We’re very hard on our toys," jokes McPhee, who wrote the play about two boys growing up in the 1980s, one affluent and one from the wrong side of the tracks.

"It’s a look at what it was like to grow up in the ’80s, the first generation that was marketed to through cartoons. It went from Bugs Bunny to how can we sell toys to these kids?

"They go through sexual discovery together, which is something all boys do, straight or gay, and that completely flips the power dynamic. One boy ends up being gay and falling in love with the other, and the other goes on a downward spiral. It’s a journey, a story of friendship and unrequited love, a fast, funny and heart-touching tale."

The coming-of-age story opens Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the Bus Stop Theatre, 2203 Gottingen St., Halifax.

The age range of the characters is eight to mid-30s but focuses on their time in school up to Grade 12.

Logan and I is the first play McPhee has written by himself  that has been produced.

He co-wrote In Pink with Andria Wilson and starred in that play, based on the true story of two Grade 12 students in the Annapolis Valley who stood up for a bullied Grade 9 student by getting as many students as they could to wear pink shirts. In Pink, which debuted at Eastern Front Theatre’s SuperNova Theatre Festival in 2008 and did three provincial tours, was mentored by Scott Burke, who directs Logan and I.

"I’ve put In Pink to rest now, I feel I’m too old to play a 17-year-old, but I hope other people pick it up," says McPhee, who looks at least a decade younger than his 34 years.

Matthews, a 24-year-old Lunenburg native now based in Halifax, is excited to play Logan.

"He’s one of those people who has the cards stacked against him with everything in life and it doesn’t take much for him to go down the wrong road. He makes a lot of bad choices. It’s a very off-type character for me, which is something I’m looking forward to."

The graduate of Park View Education Centre in Bridgewater went on to study in Neptune Theatre’s pre-professional training program and is excited to be back onstage after a big year in film.

Matthews had a principal role in Moby Dick, the US$25.5 million TV miniseries filmed in Nova Scotia and Malta last year. It stars Academy Award winner William Hurt, Ethan Hawke, Gillian Anderson, Donald Sutherland and Billy Boyd.

He was also in The Corridor, a film from Halifax writer Josh MacDonald, directed by Evan Kelly and filmed in Canning this winter. He describes it as "The Shining meets The Thing."

McPhee, who graduated from Cole Harbour District High School and went on to study science at Saint Mary’s University, has also had a big year onscreen. He just wrapped Cloudburst, Thom Fitzgerald’s feature film about two aging lesbians who run away to Nova Scotia to get married. The film stars Olympia Dukakis and Brenda Fricker.

McPhee plays a policeman who butts heads with Dukakis, an Oscar winner he calls "the best person I’ve met in the industry, down to earth and understated. . . . She’s the business."

He and Valentina are excited to debutLogan and I at the Queer Acts Theatre Festival.

McPhee says he’s grateful to Hugo Dann for coming up with the idea of the festival, now in its second year, and to Adam Reid for running it.

"It offers something unique in the theatre scene, the opportunity for those doing professional-level work to push the envelope," he says.

"There’s a selective process to get in. The audience is built-in. They want queer themes and there’s a lot of great work being done within those themes."

( anemetz@herald.ca)