Review: Lawrence and Holloman (Scrim for Rent Productions)

Photo of Jerry Schaefer and Trent McMullen courtesy of Deidre Hennigar.

Scrim for Rent theatre company tackles existentialism at the Winchester Kitchen and Bar in Toronto.

What’s the point of living? Scrim for Rent’s production of Canadian playwright Morris Panych’s two-man play Lawrence and Holloman approaches the age-old existential question with a dark sense of humour.

The show is staged in the Winchester Kitchen and Bar, which creates a relaxed and intimate environment. Not only are audience members able to order food and drinks to enjoy during the performance, but the venue also adds authenticity to the scenes which take place in a bar.

A bar is, in fact, where we find Lawrence (Trent McMullen) and Holloman (Jerry Schaefer) meeting as the play begins. Lawrence is an abrasively optimistic egotist, on Holloman’s case about being a depressed and pessimistic underachiever.

Lawrence takes Holloman under his wing, determined to improve him. But after he suffers a series of increasingly horrific accidents, Holloman is the one left looking after Lawrence. Lawrence is determined to get back on his feet (even after his leg is amputated), but Holloman thinks someone may be out to get him…

 Scrim for Rent’s production focuses on showcasing its actors and the script. The play moves quickly between locations, indicated by the rearranging of a handful of chairs and a table. This rearranging still requires the use of blackouts between each scene, which slows the play’s otherwise lightning-fast momentum.

Jerry Schaefer and Trent McMullen have the task of carrying the production with their performances, and both approach the challenge with gusto. They do particularly well at conveying their evolving characters through subtle changes in physicality. Schaefer is especially adept at this, gradually evolving from a slumped over coward, to a stalking threat.

Schaefer and McMullen both have great sense of the scripts comedy, and received lots of laughs during Monday night’s performance. At times, however, they seemed disconnected from each other, and their rapid-fire delivery of lines seemed automatic.

My friend Ali, who accompanied me, agreed that the writing was her favourite element of the production, though she also really enjoyed the delicious vegetarian nachos that we ordered before the show began.

 Scrim for Rent’s great choice of play and venue make for an enjoyable evening of theatre. Deceptively complex behind all the one-liners and witty puns, this show will have you thinking about it days later.

Lawrence and Holloman is playing at Winchester Kitchen and Bar(51A Winchester Avenue) until June 21, 2012

– Shows at 8:30pm, doors at 7:30pm

–Tickets $20, students $15

–Tickets are available online, or at the door