Knots (Vocative Theatre) 2016 Fringe Review

Photo of Jake Runeckles and Lucy Meanwell

A big idea can be a hard thing to tie together. Knots by Vocative Theatre, playing at the Factory Theatre Mainspace as part of the 2016 Toronto Fringe Festival is inspired by knots, physically, literally, and metaphorically. With moments of poignancy, it is too bad Knots can’t quite juggle all its loose threads.

Lucy Meanwell and Jake Runeckles start with the basics, a song about literal knots. From there, using a single rope as a prop, they pick at our definitions of knots, tangles, and ties. Divided into little scenes and monologues, Knots twists and turns, sometimes successfully and sometimes less so, to engage with the basic premise.

It’s an opportunity, of which Meanwell and Runeckles take full advantage to speak their mind. You can hear the voice of the performers, the work that went into the material to make it their own. I felt like I could see their passion.

Unfortunately in this case, I think passion overran the premise. Their takedown of Elbowgate—an unexpected and admittedly funny little sketch—is a perfect example. I could not for the life of me figure out why or how it related to the show. And why was so much time spent on it? I think it had to do with the word ‘bow’ in elbow, and while they seemed really into that connection it was pointless in context.

Again, here and there, I think that the desire to show the breadth of their opinions and perspectives ultimately stunted the emotional and creative impact.

As performers Runeckles is frenetic energy while Meanwell offers a grounded depth. They bring balance to a show that is in danger of being bogged down by its ambition.

At its best, Knots gives both Runeckles and Meanwell room to connect with each other and the audience. One particular moment, a discussion of quantum entanglement tied to the story of an unknown, unknowable, and unexpected brother found on Facebook, is the show at its best. This is the moment the two performers were made for. Connected by a rope, the two spin as opposites, their words directed to the audience, not each other, and we are all tangled together.

That right there is where the idea and the performance worked in accordance and landed beautifully in the audience.

It’s too bad it never quite hits that note again. The problem is it’s constantly trying to move to the next point and the next idea. Knots struggles because it wants to say everything.

Which is too bad because the foundation is there. There’s a voice, an idea, and the ability to make something. It’s just not quite as clean cut as it needs to be.

Details

  • Knots plays at the Factory Theatre Mainspace. (125 Bathurst St)
  • Tickets are $12 at the door and in advance, and can be bought online, by telephone (416-966-1062), from the Fringe Club at Honest Ed’s Alley, and — if any remain — from the venue’s box office starting one hour before curtain. The festival also offers a range of money-saving passes for serious Fringers.
  • Be aware that Fringe performances always start exactly on time, and that latecomers are never admitted.
  • Content Warning: Mature Language.
  • This venue is wheelchair-accessible by use of an alternate route. Please arrive early and speak with the House Manager.

Performances

  • Wednesday June 29th, 06:30 pm
  • Friday July 1st, 01:15 pm
  • Sunday July 3rd, 04:45 pm
  • Tuesday July 5th, 10:30 pm
  • Thursday July 7th, 12:00 pm
  • Saturday July 9th, 08:00 pm
  • Sunday July 10th, 02:15 pm

Photo of Jake Runeckles and Lucy Meanwell by Michael Wood