A Slight Ache is a one act by famed English playwright Harold Pinter that explores that great destruction that can be caused by small annoyances. It is presented at the Toronto Fringe Festival by Toronto-based theatre company Red Rabbit Theatre Productions.
The action takes place at an upright English country estate over the course of one day. The house is owned by an eccentric, bordering on insane, intellectual: Edward and his bored wife, Flora. It begins in at morning tea and the small annoyances: wasps, headaches, are already getting to Edward.
The action of the play begins to pick as Edward grows obsessed with the presences of a very old match-seller who is looming at the edge of the garden. The match-seller becomes the focal point for the pent up fears and desires of the couple and their attempts to engage him drive the action forward.
The script is a challenging one for actors as it is mostly one sided conversations and silences. The one sided conversations gave the actors chances to let loose and move the play forward. Unfortunately the silences were not as fully explored as the monologues.
The set was sparse, a few chairs in different areas of the stage made the different zones of the house clear. This required some longer set changes which broke up the scenes. There was also a bit of trouble with some of the actors finding their light in the area-specific lights.
The play began on a good note by providing a nice dose of humour as the couple argued as to the correct manner of disposing of a wasp. Flora especially made some bold choices and was simultaneously exceptionally silly and enjoyable.
From the opening scene Edward seemed to be quiet insane and took much relish in the murder of the wasp. Although this was entertaining at first it left the character little room to develop for the rest of the piece. After the first quarter of the play I had seen most of Edward’s character.
From that point it became more about Flora and the match-seller running into Edward’s various eccentricities. The lack of further character development made the play feel long to me, although Flora did have a some entertaining scenes with the match-seller towards the end of the play.
The piece overall played on a very similar note for almost the whole piece which made it less engaging as an audience member. If you’re a fan of Pinter’s work it way be worth a look both for the text and for the company’s interpretation of it.
- A Slight Ache plays at Venue 1 – Tarragon Theatre Mainspace (30 Bridgman Ave)
- Showtimes are: July 8, Sunday, 1:15 pm; July 10, Tuesday, 7:00 pm; July 11, Wednesday, 4:00; July 12, Thursday, 9:45; July 13, Friday, 1:45; July 15, Saturday 12 pm
- Advance tickets ($11 including service charge) are available online at www.fringetoronto.com, by phone at 416-966-1062 , or in person at The Randolph Centre for the Arts, 736 Bathurst Street.
- Value packs are available for anyone planning to see at least 5 shows.