PLEASURABLE INDUSTRY LARK
After a long summer break, theatre is back with a giggly vengeance in the Distillery where director László Marton relies on the not-so-usual performance suspects for split-second timing to welcome back playgoers.
This is, afterall, a hilarious backstage comedy offering modest variation on the form with an ever-evolving play-within-a-play.
What begins as domestic drama centred on a tortured artist becomes, over multiple rewrites, a muddled attempt at a taboo protest play.
The zany energy of the doomed rehearsal process dips during the overlong depiction of the play’s opening night, which drifts without clear stakes. Where, exactly, is it being performed, and what does failure mean to the company?
Make no mistake, this is a production gleefully lampoons self-absorbed theatre that agonises over the meaning of art and wisdom of creative geniuses, but his similarly inward-looking piece needs either increased emotional engagement or a more distinct message to rise above parodic sketch.
The Play’s The Thing supplies plenty of zingers but is relentless in pursuit of constant mirth. The manic first act offers no respite, dodging around plot holes and the second is sweetened by scattergun punchlines.
Don’t expect an evening of great profundity or the focused storyline a self-conscious fringe drama deserves. Despite this, the production is still pleasurable industry lark.
THE PLAY’S THE THING by Ferenc Molnar, adapted by P.G. Wodhouse September 5 - October 14, 2015 YOUNG CENTRE FOR THE ARTS, 50 Tank House Lane, Toronto TICKETS $38.00 – $94.00 www.soulpepper.ca 416-866-8666 CAST Oliver Dennis, Raquel Duffy, Gordon Hecht, C. David Johnson, Diego Matamoros, Gregory Prest, William Webster DIRECTOR László Marton SET DESIGN Julie Fox LIGHTING Kevin Lamotte SOUND DESIGN John Lott STAGE MANAGER Nancy Dryden