by Lucy Allen
The Fringe tent definitely feels different when it’s January and -15 degrees outside, but that didn’t stop the crowds from lining up for the first night of the Next Stage Festival, host to eight new and reworked shows. My first show of the festival this year was Screwed & Clued Theatre Company’s Quite Frankly. To get the obvious joke out of the way: Quite frankly, it’s worth seeing.
Written and performed by Justin Sage-Passant, Quite Frankly is a one-man show telling the story of a socially awkward man, named Frank, unable to ever quite integrate into normal situations of his society. Specifically, it focuses on his relationship with his constantly over-bearing and needy mother, who he cares for.
The moment that Sage-Passant shuffles uncomfortably onto the stage staring uncertainly and wistfully at the audience you’re immediately endeared to him. From his eye twitches to his slow methodical way of speaking, every detail of the character is explored and Sage-Passant does a wonderful job of bringing each and every one to life.
Of course, hearing one man speak in a slightly monotone voice – however hilarious it may be, – runs the risk of getting old. Luckily, Sage-Passant balances this out with a slew of other characters. They’re all over the top and polar opposites of the introverted main character. They not only provided a wackier energy that the main character could never muster, but also painted a vivid picture of the small town the show is set in.
For me, what makes this show are the small details that make up Frank’s life. It’s set in England, and while some might be afraid of missing out on some cultural references, not once did I feel as if I didn’t belong in that world. There are many things to identify with, a fact reinforced tonight by the audience’s constant laughter. Trust me when I say there is a lot to laugh at.
Sage-Passant takes his time revealing the complex relationship between Frank and his mother. For every laugh out loud moment, there is an equally somber one to accompany it, as you watch a man constantly crushed emotionally by the one person whose admiration he seeks.
Quite Frankly is a familiar story told simply and beautifully by a talented performer. There are moments to laugh, moments to cry, and moments to do both. I would recommend this to anyone who likes to be moved by a good, solid piece of theatre.
–Quite Frankly is playing as part of the Next Stage Festival in the Factory Studio Space.
-Runtime: 60 min.
Jan. 7- 9:15pm
Jan. 9- 3:15pm
Jan. 10- 3:15pm
Jan. 11- 9:00pm
Jan. 12- 6:30pm
Jan. 15- 9:30pm
Jan. 16- 5:30pm
Jan. 17- 7:30pm
-Tickets are $15.00 for evening performances (7pm and after) and $12 for afternoon performances.
-Tickets can be purchased at the door, online, or by calling 416-966-1062 (Toll free 1-866-515-7799).
Photo of Justin Sage-Passant courtesy of Screwed & Clued Theatre Company