I haven’t and won’t have the opportunity to take in as many Fringe plays as I did last year, but I’ve manage to see two so far, and they are both ones that I would recommend that people go and see. The first one I saw was It’s Yes: A One Man Mockery of All Things Human. Today I went to take in Autobahn, put on by Theatre by the River, a local theatrical company. The blurb for the play reads as follows
4 actors. 12 characters. 6 shorts set in the front seat of a car. From point A to point B, from amusing to disturbing, there’s an entire journey happening.
Actors Dorothy Carroll, Hilary Carroll, James Firby and Derek Leenhouts buckle up for a wild ride while director Cory Wreggitt takes the wheel of playwright Neil LaBute’s collection of car scenes.
For once I can say that the blurb for the play fairly accurately encompasses what the play is actually about. The play contains six short vignettes all involving two people in a car. The phrase amusing to disturbing not only describes the range of stories involved but the general direction in which the entire show moves.
One of the pleasures of this show is the quality of the acting. All four actors take turns with dealing with large amounts of dialogue and all four have moments when they have to be silent for a long time. A challenge that they pulled of quite well, and I’ll make comment on a couple of individual standouts
The first scene involved the Carroll sisters as a mother and daughter returning home from the daughter’s rehab stint. Dorothy as the daughter has to carry the dialogue burden in these scene and does so very well, but I thought Hilary gave the standout silent performance of the show, as the mother, using subtle changes in facial expression and posture to put across her responses to the daughter’s conversation.
The second scene was the silliest of the six with Derek Leenhouts portraying the buddy trying to encourage the silent James Firby to reclaim his rightful property, you’ll have to see the show to find out what it is, after a relationship breakup.
The third scene pairs D. Carroll and Leenhouts in a mad romp through breakup and relationship cliches. This one involves both characters in dialogue and Carroll is once again a standout.
the fourth scene involves Firby and D. Carroll also, with Carroll taking the quiet role in this one.
The final two scenes take us into the area of the disturbing. They both felt a little uncomfortable, not only because of the disturbing character of the scenes, much of which comes from what is implied as opposed to directly stated or shown, but also from the fact that the transition from the fourth to the fifth scenes doesn’t seem natural. It feels like you’ve been given a heavy dose of standup, and then another speaker comes on and gives you a lengthy academic lecture.
I also felt that in the fifth scene, the character played by Hilary Carroll didn’t feel quite believable. In many ways the character came across as childish rather than naive, which seems to be what was being aimed for.
On the whole, the piece shows us how central cars have become in our lives, not only as forms of transport, but also in becoming places where major events of our lives are acted out. What comes through in most of the scenes in the isolation that is perpetuated by living so much of our lives in these tiny containers. An isolation then ends up being not only isolation from our friends and neighbours but from ourselves as well.
Tickets are $10.00 Showtimes are as follows:
Sunday, July 17 – 7:15 PM
Tuesday, July 19 – 3:30 PM
Wednesday, July 20 – 7:15 PM
Friday, July 22 – 8:45 PM
Saturday, July 23 – 11:00 PM
*Some mature content and language, under 12 not admitted
This show is definitely worth seeing. It has a great deal of laughs and also some food for thought.