Tanya Rintoul plays Layla who wishes to be like her mother said she was: “a good girl.” Layla feels a mixture of emotions about a mysterious incident, which she slowly reveals throughout the sixty minute performance. She allows herself and the audience to wonder if her goodness exists or not.
The play has a strange sweetness, most likely because of Rintoul’s demeanor. Despite the fact that she occasionally confesses upsetting information, I found her very likable. Rintoul shows an obvious connection and understanding of her character – most likely because she also wrote the play. Her ease with the role allows both her humorous and serious moments to ring true.
As sweet as Rintoul is, the play still has more disturbing side. I had a constant sense that there was something dark lurking behind the performance, even if I could not pin down exactly what had gone wrong. Layla slowly adds to her story, so that the audience has to guess the grittier side.
The performance contrasts the grim possibilities. I watched as Layla walked about her room, doing mundane things like looking in the mirror and flipping through magazines. The mediocrity of getting dressed up to go outside made my anticipation grow. I could not wait for the finished product – the play, not just the make-over taking place in the mirror.
The show is a site-specific piece, taking place in a small venue, the Annex Pawn. The entrance is hidden in an alleyway, like a little Fringe secret. There is only room for twenty seats, which are all a part of a front row. Because of this arrangement, and the fact that it is a one-woman show, the situation felt intimate. I felt like I was in the play, not just watching it.
In some instances, audience members were a part of the play. Layla approaches people during the performance. At times it’s for emotional resonance, looking into the eyes of an audience member and holding their hand. Other times it is to help her with simple tasks, like holding a hat or helping her zip up a dress.
This performance is not for those who want a joyful night out. The intimate venue allows for the content to sink in. I still felt odd as I made my way out of room.
So, if drama is something more to your taste, you should try the show. The play is grim and gritty, but in a good way.
Good Girl (barking birds theatre) is playing at Annex Pawn, 1044 Bathurst Street (enter through alley off Vermont Street), Toronto.
July 4th – 8:30 pm
July 5th – 8:30 pm
July 6th – 8:30 pm
July 7th – 8:30 pm
July 8th – 8:30 pm
July 10th – 8:30 pm
July 11th – 8:30 pm
July 12th – 8:30 pm
July 13th – 8:30 pm
July 14th – 8:30 pm
Individual Fringe tickets are available at the door for $10 ($5 for FringeKids), cash only. Late comers will not be permitted.
Advance tickets are $11 ($9 + $2 service charge) are available online at fringetoronto.com, by phone at 416-966-1062 ext 1, or in person during the festival at the Festival Box Office in the parking lot behind Honest Ed’s (581 Bloor St W).
Value packs are available if you plan to see at least 5 shows.
Photo of Tayna Rintoul by Roshan Ahmadvand