Toronto theatre takes a comedic look at its Parkdale neighbourhood
P-Dale is a comedic series of plays set and produced in Parkdale, a Toronto neighbourhood that is particularly interesting and complex. It’s a fantastic idea. I just went to see Episode 3 “A Shot Of Love To The Gut.” I didn’t have to worry about missing Episodes 1 and 2, as there was a synopsis of those events in the program.
The current product is not as good as the idea, unfortunately. There are some truly funny moments, some good performances and some promise from the script. But they are compromised by a few flaws, primarily that there is no clear story. There are a bunch of stories, only one of which goes anywhere at all, and there’s no real payoff.
Some of this is due to being episodic, but each episode in a series in any medium must have a self-contained beginning, middle and end. I thought the beginning was dragging on and on and then we finally got to the good stuff: a plot to bring down the condo construction that heralds the triumph of gentrification over Parkdale’s eclectic character (this is real thing – the condo, not the plot.) But then that turned out to be just setup for the next episode, I assume, as it didn’t have any kind of resolution.
The script could use some tightening up and so could the direction. I am sure that the looseness of the production is in large part due to the largeness of the cast. There are thirteen actors in this show. Thirteen. I’m not stressing this because I’m superstitious, but because that is a huge amount of people to organize for rehearsals for a low budget indie production.
I had another issue with the show. As a sex-positive queer woman, there were a lot of jokes that rubbed me the wrong way. I love gay humour: we make the best jokes about ourselves. And I love raunchy jokes, when they aren’t based on a sex-negative premise. I’m not committed to some traditionally “politically correct” mode. But I can tell when a joke is coming from a place of inclusive positivity and when it’s not.
Underscoring that was the fact that the two female characters in the show had nothing to do. One of them fell in love with a man who called her a “cunt” and then was never seen again. One of them was a porn star with a bit of business sense, which I assume the writer thought made her complex, but really, no. A woman who works in porn and can still read and count is actually not that uncommon. And, just like the other female character, she did nothing to drive the plot.
It really did have a few moments where I laughed out loud. It has some good performances. It really does have promise. It just needs some work, and hopefully future episodes will get that work.
- Episode 3 “A Shot Of Love To The Gut” runs to to Feb 2 at Unit 102 Theatre, 376 Dufferin Street
- Shows are Wednesday to Saturday at 8 pm
- Tickets are $15
- Tickets are available by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or at the door