Two women were engaged in a verbal tug of war as I approached Robert Gill Theatre. They wanted to walk on the shaded side of the street. I wanted to see Viva! a show playing as part of the Toronto Fringe Festival. There are some timeless, universal traits we all share.
Some really cool music was playing as we entered the theatre. It was kind of a fusion of funk and jazz. On stage, Matt (Lee J Poichuk) was asleep on a sofa. I’m not sure if that form of slothful inactivity is universal, but I’ve been guilty of it from time to time.
Like a lot of Fringe plays, the set is minimal. Viva! reels us into its world with great acting and writing.
When Jeremy (John Leung) returns home, he is not impressed. It is 3:00 PM. Jeremy’s girlfriend Brooks (Natasha Arsenault) is arriving for dinner shortly. The apartment needs to be cleaned and Matt needs to leave.
Jeremy and Matt remind me more of a married couple than they did best friends or roommates. They know each other far too well!
They have an “Odd Couple” relationship. Instead of cigars and poker games, Matt has bongs and “the internet”. Jeremy, like Felix Unger, is an overachiever who loves to cook.
Matt’s “partner in crime” is Sasha (Jesse Perrault). I really like how these two work together. Each had elements of two or three of my friends in their 20s. They’re a bit like Shaggy and Scooby too. You’ll recognize your friends in Matt and Sasha too. You might even be searching your pockets for your lighter.
Matt and Sasha plan on leading a revolution through sleep, unwritten manifestos and social media. The woman that Matt is smitten with, Lauralie (Jacqui Compayre) is another big advocate of “the cause”.
Naturally there is lots of “hanky-panky”, something else we can all relate to. They call it a “love triangle” but it is really a “love matrix”. It gets messy at times, literally, but it is always fun.
I thought all five characters were great and well-developed. I could relate to them all. I share personality traits with them and felt like I was hanging out with old friends at times.
Writer and director Noah Izak has created a fun world inhabited by five likeable characters. He’s also made some statements about modern technology, relationships and pie making that are easy to digest.
Sasha’s speech near the end might not work as well as it could. Overall though, one trait that everyone leaving Viva! Is going to share is a smile and a good mood.
- Viva! plays at Venue 9, Robert Gill Theatre, 214 College St., 3rd floor
- Show times: Wed. July 4 @ 07:45 PM, Fri. July 6 @ 01:15 PM, Sat. July 7 @ 06:45, PM Tue. July 10 @ 01:00 PM, Thu. July 12 @ 05:00 PM, Fri. July 13 @ 07:30 PM, Sun. July 15 @ 01:00 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