Keep Tightly Closed in a Cool Dry Place (Lift The Lid Theatre Company) 2011 Toronto Fringe Review

Keep Tightly Closed in a Cool Dry Place, onstage at Theatre Passe Muraille, during Toronto Fringe was written by Megan Terry and directed by Tony Dunn.

Terry is one of the first American dramatists to embrace lesbian and feminist causes. She apparently celebrated her heyday in New York City in the 60’s and 70’s. Dunn is an American in self-imposed exile. He moved to Canada to avoid The Vietnam War draft.

I didn’t know any of this upon entering the theatre.

Maybe that’s why I felt out of place at this play. Nostalgia for a crazy time half a century ago doesn’t usually interest me. On a gorgeous summer Saturday afternoon in Toronto in 2011, this one is a hard sell.

That being said, I really respect the bravery of mounting this play. It’s great that Dunn hasn’t given up his dreams and is directing theatre. I hope this is just the start for him.

The play happens in a prison, where three men are locked up for a crime they helped each other commit. It’s an interesting concept to explore: peer pressure, how society determines our behaviours and that sort of thing.

The three actors, Alastair Love, Guy Castonguay and Adam Christie are also to be commended. They display a mountain of bravery by performing this play.

For example, there is a prolonged scene in Keep Tightly Closed in a Cool Dry Place where the three inmates masturbate. It’s a circle jerk, and also a bullying session. One man is forced to share his sexual fantasy so that all three can reach orgasm. I found this sort of thing to be gratuitous and didn’t think it added anything worthwhile to the play.

However, I didn’t find the exploration of the baser human needs and instincts interesting. One of the finest horror films ever made, The Silence of the Lambs, explores the inner works of the human mind. It doesn’t use choreographed lewdness to be successful.

Indeed, there is a time and place for everything. A lot of people will probably like Keep Tightly Closed in a Cool Dry Place.

Details:

Keep Tightly Closed in a Cool Dry Place is playing at Theatre Passe Muraille Mainspace

Director: Tony Dunn
Cast: Alastair Love, Guy Castonguay, Adam Christie
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Warning: Sexual Content, Graphic Violence, Mature Language
Venue 10 Theatre Passe Muraille Mainspace

Warning: Sexual Content, Graphic Violence, Mature Language

Performances:

60 min.
Fri, July 8 9:15 PM
Sat, July 9 4:00 PM
Sun, July 10 5:45 PM
Tue, July 12 1:00 PM
Wed, July 13 11:15 PM
Fri, July 15 9:45 PM
Sun, July 17 2:45 PM

Tickets:

– All individual Fringe tickets are $10 ($5 for FringeKids) at the door (cash only). Tickets are available online at www.fringetoronto.com, by phone at 416-966-1062, in person at The Randolph Centre for the Arts, 736 Bathurst Street (Advance tickets are $11 – $10+$1 convenience fee)
– Several money-saving passes  are available if you plan to see at least 5 shows

2 thoughts on “Keep Tightly Closed in a Cool Dry Place (Lift The Lid Theatre Company) 2011 Toronto Fringe Review”

  1. You mention in your review that you found some of the sexuality in the play to be gratuitous. I want to point out that this could be an artifact of the 60’s and that the scene you mention (“circle jerk”) the stage directions specifically ask for the character to come, with the other two men, watching, being only just a bit less aroused than he.

    There are other scenes which are written into the play in which the guys masturbate or have sex with each other. I believe that if there are references to sex in the play that seem to be gratuitous, it was Megan Terry’s intention that they be so: one of the things she was clearly saying was that there is only one evil, and that is murder. This was at the height of Viet Nam, and murder was on people’s minds. Mine, especially; that’s why I came to Canada.

    Sincerely, Tony Dunn

    You wrote:
    “there is a prolonged scene in Keep Tightly Closed in a Cool Dry Place where the three inmates masturbate. It’s a circle jerk, and also a bullying session. One man is forced to share his sexual fantasy so that all three can reach orgasm. I found this sort of thing to be gratuitous and didn’t think it added anything worthwhile to the play.”
    On page 18 of the Samuel French Script there is the stage direction “(He comes and lies back, moaning under his blanket)” I just want to be clear: if there is gratuitousness in this show it is merely to carry out Megan Terry’s vision as

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