Lifeline (Ensemble 21) – Toronto Fringe Review

By Darryl Pring

I am always wary of collective works. I find they tend to be more diplomatic than dramatic, with every actor getting his or her time to ‘shine’. In the case of  Lifeline, which played at the  George Ignatieff Theatre, I’m afraid my assumption was warranted.

Set in a modern hospital, the cast of nine attempt to tell a tale incorporating what they consider to be ‘big issues’ like death, acceptance and love. What we get instead is a live version of a bad Grey’s Anatomy episode.

There is a doctor who feels guilty for something that couldn’t possibly be her fault, a patient who is sad about dying, a couple of superfluous couples who ‘kinda’ like each other. And to add there’s a couple of dead people, one of which is shirtless the whole time for no other reason than he looks good naked.

I got the feeling that they spent too much time acquiring the right costumes and set pieces and not enough time on story. The best part about the show was the cellist and she didn’t say a word. I hate being this harsh on a young, optimistic company but this work was all style and zero substance.

To the Ensemble 21, I want to say that I hope your next project makes me eat my words. Prove me wrong, I implore you. But don’t rely on props or looks or the taboo. The lesson here is story first, everything else second.

Lifeline
by Ensemble21
presented by Ensemble21 from Toronto

Director: Nathaniel Brettle
Choreographer: Tyler Evan Webb
Cast: Michael Arajs, Claire Armstrong, Brandon Brackenbury, Sandra Crljenica, Erin Elliott, Victoria Kucher, Annie Skelding, Signe Sturup, Tyler Evan Webb
Genre: Play-Drama
Audience: Mature Audience
Warning: Language, Nudity
Venue 7 George Ignatieff Theatre

60 min.

Sat, July 10 6:15 PM – 762