I saw the show Inaudible Garbage by Little Boy Lost productions at the Robert Gill Theatre for the 2016 Toronto Fringe Festival. Inaudible Garbage is an experimental piece directed by Stephen MacDonald, exploring ideas of theatre and solitude. It begins with a gas station bathroom, and the rest is difficult to explain.
The stage was divided straight through the middle by a panel. Each side of the panel had a sink, a door, and a mirror. The set designed by Jim Plaxton was incredibly clever. The sinks were filled with water to appear functional. The mirror for each bathroom was a singular rectangle cut out of the panel, so that the two actors could stare at one another through the space, while pretending there was no one looking directly at them. Plaxton let the audience explore the reflection between the two characters without having to say a word.
The show is about a man who locks himself into a gas station bathroom. However, watching the play, I was stunned to see two men, both locked in separate bathrooms. One of the men was written in the program as Sid, while the other was written as Johnny, but I don’t remember hearing these names whatsoever. With no clear names and no photographs on the pamphlets, I had to use the powers of the internet to know which actor played “Sid” and which actor played “Johnny”.
Johnny was played by John Healy, who was incredible. He was gruff, charismatic, and despite the strange circumstances on stage, his performance felt real. I could believe him as someone who would brag about his business smarts in a gas station bathroom. I completely believed that he was the type of person to carry around a small cooler full of meat, just to see if he could strike a quick deal.
Sid, by default I discovered, was played by Jonah Allison, whose portrayal was energetic and emotional. Allison was extremely agitated, so much that he was on the brink of crying or hitting whenever he spoke. I was tense when he opened his mouth. Even in his quieter moments, I was waiting for him to fly off the handle.
I find it difficult to describe Inaudible Garbage, because MacDonald’s show feels purposely slippery, like it’s avoiding a clear-cut definition. The show covered many subjects, tones, and even styles in a short amount of time. One minute, there was confrontational screaming, then a quiet confession about a dark past, and then there was a dance party.
I felt like everything was open to interpretation but that it was to the show’s own detriment. It was so vague, that the audience was hesitant to leave when the actors left the stage, because we didn’t know if the play was actually over.
The acting was fantastic. The set design was unique. The fourth wall breaks were very entertaining. The show itself was interesting, but the ambiguity was too much of an obstacle for me. I thought the show was memorable, but not satisfying.
- Inaudible Garbage plays at the Robert Gill Theatre. (214 College 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.
- Wednesday June 29th, 08:45 pm
- Friday July 1st, 01:45 pm
- Sunday July 3rd, 03:30 pm
- Tuesday July 5th, 01:00 pm
- Wednesday July 6th, 02:15 pm
- Friday July 8th, 11:30 pm
- Saturday July 9th, 08:45 pm
Photo credit: Photo provided by company