Silver And Stinky – By over-the-edge productions (Toronto Fringe 2008 Review)

Review by Adam Collier

image Silver And Stinky was circled in my Fringe guide, because its characters are bike couriers in Toronto. Couriers always seem effortlessly cool and casual to me, intimidating too. They would seem to be great material for a play.

Silver And Stinky just wasn’t that play for me.

I didn’t get the courier vibe at all from Silver (played by Carly Chamberlain). She’s cool and casual, and pretty – I’m sure she could talk to a bike courier any time she wants – but even with a bit of lingo (that the playbill seems to grant far more significance than is merited) I wasn’t convinced.

Just to look at her was a bit of a tip-off that something was off. She had no tattoos for one thing, and her pants had flared cuffs, which didn’t seem practical, and didn’t look the slightest bit distressed from the job. Nor did her body, there’s no sign that she’s fallen or crashed into a car door while on a delivery.

To give Silver And Stinky the benefit of the doubt though, by nearly the last scene Silver seemed to have an inchoate attitude, speaking of her contempt for the courier business. But because we don’t see her act on it, she just tells us off-hand that she threw all of her packages into the lake, I got a sinking sense this was just as much an act of cowardice. After she quits her job. The significance of her breaking the rules was lost on me, when quitting obliterates the chance of standing-up to any repercussions.

The other thing working against Silver’s authenticity was – I’m sorry to say – Stinky, played by Greg Durham. Stinky is a fuller character. We see him go through immense strains on stage. Mr. Durham also happens to be perfect for this role. He has a rough voice that rattles around his chest, and booms. And he seemed to imbue every line with the struggles of his character’s entire life.

I found myself wondering if the discrepancy between the two characters, and actors, was partly because Mr. Durham had written the Stinky character for himself. Not that the discrepancy is huge, but it would help explain to me why Ms Chamberlain seems to me like easy casting to allow the muted attraction between Stinky and Silver.

My friend found the love story obvious she told me. I felt it was too. Though what’s even worse is the trite response Silver has to Stinky, feigning her betrayal I thought. Shortly after the possibility of romance fizzles, Silver And Stinky returns to a fascinating idea it earlier pursued and dropped: bike couriers as a tribe of outsiders with exceptional access to people in power. Unfortunately though the meaning of this idea is barely explored.

Overall I still love the premise of Silver And Stinky, but I am reluctant to recommend this play. I got the sense it was still in its early drafts, and needs more work to really capitalize on the intrinsic substance of its subject.

Details

Silver And Stinky is playing at the Tarragon Theatre (30 Bridgman Avenue, north of Dupont, east of Bathurst).
– The show is playing as part of the Fringe Festival, with the following dates remaining – Saturday July 12 at 11:30 PM and Sunday July 13th at noon.
– Tickets are $10 a the door (more information on the Toronto Fringe web site)