Circlesnake Productions presents Slip, a fractured murder mystery, at The Box Toronto
The Box Toronto is a re-purposed loft, hidden behind a small alley like a secret. The theatre looks like a regular apartment with a plain kitchenette tucked in the corner, but there are stage lights all across the ceiling. The walls are covered with newspaper clippings, post-it notes, and letters. Ripped pages are strewn across the floor. The audience tip-toes around the un-moving body of an actress. We all shuffle in our seats, trying to get comfortable at the scene of the crime.
Slip is a story about an investigation of a possible murder. The victim has died of mysterious circumstances, which Toronto detectives Lynne and Mark try to uncover with their expertise. The investigation becomes more trying as more information about the victim is discovered, along with another unexpected obstacle: Lynne’s memory is failing her. Lynne tries to focus on solving the crime, even when her mind can’t seem to focus with her.
The first thing I noticed about the play was the set designed by Bronwen Lily. I felt like I was surrounded by organized chaos. The papers and patterns on the walls showed obsessive, possibly maniacal behaviour. I was trying to figure out if the writer was solving a mystery or planning a crime. I’d found my eyes wandering to see if I could spot a clue. The set made me feel like I was in the investigation. I was just as determined to see the end, and also just as confused about the debris I was surrounded by.
Slip impressed me so much with its creative style of storytelling. It begins with a traditional formula for a murder mystery. There lies the victim on the floor. There is the possible murder weapon. If we find a motive and a suspect, we can put all the pieces together. But instead of shoving the puzzle pieces neatly, Slip scatters the pieces across the ground and throws some of them out the window. As the show reflects Lynne’s faulty perception, time warps and scenes meld together. Large chunks of time and story are left out. Time is an untrustworthy concept in this play.
The unreliable moments are only made more powerful by the fact that the moments in reality, or at least the moments that appear to be happening when they should be, are so grounded. The dialogue between characters is sharp and playful. They banter and snark like good friends. The writing knew when to be funny, when to be serious, and when to be conflicted. Even though Slip involves harsh jumps in time and action, the plot flows seamlessly.
I can’t give credit to the dialogue without giving credit to the voices behind it. Alex Paxton-Beesley as Lynne was phenomenal. She was confident and brash when Lynne’s abilities were at their best, and visibly shaken when her abilities came into question. Her range was perfectly paired with Daniel Pagett as Lynne’s friend and detective partner Mark. Pagett moved beautifully from a playful and disgruntled coworker to a friend with deep concerns.The friendship between Lynne and Mark felt genuinely close, and like there was more to be said between them, but the audience would never know. Actors Mikaela Dyke, Anders Yates, and Paloma Nunez all brought life to their multiple characters. Even with the same faces, I was still sold by the performances.
Of course, credit has to be given to director Alec Toller, whose hard work kept me interested from the moment I walked into the theatre. This has been one of the best things I’ve seen while working for Mooney on Theatre. I absolutely loved everything about it. This show deserves to be seen and applauded. I cannot recommend this enough. Go see this and bring friends.
- Slip is playing until February 7th at The Box Toronto (89 Niagara St.).
- Shows are running from Thursdays to Sundays at 8:00pm, with 2pm matinees on Sundays.
- General tickets are $20, while matinees are $12/PWYC. Tickets can be purchased online or at the door.
Photo of Daniel Pagett, Mikaela Dyke, and Alex Paxton-Beesley by Alec Toller