Pace Theatre Toronto, co-founded by Andrea Hluscu and Meghan Jones, makes its Toronto Fringe Festival debut with their dark comedy Cut-Throat: The Isolation of Ambition. The play is written by Hluscu in collaboration with Jones and Pace Theatre Toronto Company and explores the question, how far will you go and what are you willing to do to make your dreams come true?
At the top of the show, I loved the way they used a soft open to ease us into what we were about to see. It took me a while to even realize there was music and sound effects playing, because it was just a gentle hum in the background. I thought it was a really good mechanism to use to set the tone. Sadly, it went on about five minutes too long.
Instantly, we are introduced to the “voice of Maggie”, played by Kandi Prosser. I didn’t quite grasp the necessity for this character. I felt that anything she revealed could have all easily been written into the two leads’ dialogue without skipping a beat. Prosser, however, is a very talented actor. Her diction, poise, and commitment to the role were hard not to notice. It’s just a shame that I felt her character was superfluous.
I thought Meghan Jones and Andrea Hluscu played off of each other really well. Jones’ character Jenna was a welcome ray of sunshine to Hluscu’s perpetually depressive, dry, sardonic Maggie. I liked that they were polar opposites because it made for some good comedy.
Jones stood out in particular. Her character had more of an emotional journey. I felt she was given the more dynamic role, which really showed off her versatility as a performer.
Zach Parsons, who plays Maggie’s brother Elliot, was great at embodying his role as a snotty, unaffectionate, slightly poncy theatre director that Jenna sets her sights on. He has a sort of old-world style to him with a natural gift for comedy. I thought he executed his role spotlessly.
Unfortunately, the play seemed to dwell on things for far too long. There were a few times where I felt the script could have achieved what it wanted to in half the time. At the end of the play, there was a whole scene that seemed to play out just to garner gratuitous laughter. It left me with a lot of questions and the play just never got around to answering them.
Here’s the thing: yes, this play could use some work but it has potential. These guys are all very good actors in what I would consider a “work in progress”. Good news is, this is what the Fringe Festival is about and I think these guys deserve a chance. It’s worth seeing for the performances.
- Cut-Throat: The Isolation of Ambition is playing until July 11th at St. Vladimir Theatre (620 Spadina Ave.)
- Tickets are $12 in advance, $10 at the door. The festival also offers a range of money saving tickets and passes for serious Fringers.
- Tickets can be purchased online, by phone (416-966-1062), from the festival box office down Honest Ed’s Alley (581 Bloor West), or from the venue box office starting one hour before the performance. Venue sales are cash-only.
- Be advised that Fringe performances always start exactly on time, and latecomers are never admitted. Set your watch to CBC time, and arrive a few minutes early to avoid disappointment.
- Warnings: Sexual Content, Graphic Violence, Mature Language
- July 04 at 05:45 PM
- July 06 at 10:30 PM
- July 07 at 08:30 PM
- July 08 at 12:15 PM
- July 10 at 04:00 PM
- July 11 at 10:30 PM
Photo of Kandi Prosser (Left), Andreea Hluscu (Centre), Meghan Jones (Right) by Pace Theatre