You’ll find one of the most deliciously awkward double dates in U.S. Drag at the 2012 Toronto Fringe Festival playing at the Randolph Theatre. It’s also just one of the many wonderfully uncomfortable social situations in the play. The story follows Angela, played by Zoe Gamache, and Allison, played by Samara Stern, as they navigate modern urban life in the context of a support group trying to survive the attacker “Ed.”
Gamache’s performance is believable and genuine. Stern is appropriately frank and I applaud her unapologetic portrayal of Allison as a somewhat questionable person. Allison is humorous and joyously in-your-face, so you don’t even question her values and behaviour until long after you’ve left the show. How much of this is the script, how much of it is direction, and how much of it is acting is really debatable. So credit is given to the whole team. The values are indeed the real point of the show. U.S. Drag poignantly exposes our culture of entitlement and apathy by making us laugh at Allison and Angela until we realize that we’re laughing at ourselves.
There are moments that made me question the artistic choices, particularly regarding musicality. There are moments that made me question direction – some characters teetered on the edge of caricature at times. And yes, there were moments that fell a little flat. Jokes, for example, that missed their mark. But overall, the moments I remember most are the ones that made me laugh, and the moments that made me think about the values and priorities of the culture I live in. I think that’s the best thing I could ask for in a play: laughs and reflection.
- U.S. Drag plays at the Randolph Theatre (Venue 4), 736 Bathurst St. (Just south of Bloor St.)
- Playing July 07 5:15 PM, July 09 12:45 PM, July 10 6:45 PM, July 11 3:30 PM, July 12 5:15 PM, July 14 11:00 PM.
- 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 – $9+$2 service charge)
- Value packs are available if you plan to see at least 5 shows.