The Contract is a site specific play being mounted at The Cameron House as part of Toronto Fringe 2012. It is experimental, provocative, sketchy, edgy and not necessarily for everyone. I consider it a must-see.
The Cameron is a legendary watering hole. It has nurtured artists since before most people reading this were born. Being somewhat acquainted with this proud history, I anticipated The Contract to be something special. I was not disappointed.
After the doors are shut and everyone is comfortable, the play begins. It sounds like an old joke, but it all begins when “a man walks into a bar”.
That man is Rodney (Richard Enos). He asks Eleanor the bartender (Naomi Tessler) to help him with his headache. Her idea of medication is television and a bottle of beer.
Ugly events are recounted. The audience gains Rodney’s memory as he does. It’s a friendly bar, after all. It is a multimedia show, and the audience sees the play through Rodney’s eyes through most of it.
It’s also a merry-go-round of love interests. Rodney’s friend Russell (Owen Fawcett) is sleeping with Rodney’s wife Janet (Jessica Allen). It’s messier than the sidewalk outside of The Cameron on Sunday morning.
All four actors are strong “out of the gate” and run at full gallop to the finish line. You will probably consider them old friends after the play and hope to share a round at the same table afterwards.
Seeing The Contract felt like being on acid at The Rovers during a taping of Coronation Street. Or maybe it felt like being in New Orleans. It also reminded me of the old Keifer Sutherland/Julia Roberts movie Flatliners. Oh! The colours!
At one pivotal point in the play, I almost screamed out. The Contract hits that hard. Bars bring out the worst and occasionally the worst in people. They build communities and emotional ties. The success of Cheers is proof of that.
It isn’t for everyone though. I noticed one woman who couldn’t bear to look at the goings on.
The Contract “pushes the envelope” into a postal code three provinces over. This play is another reason why I love Fringe.
- The Contract plays at Venue 24, The Cameron House, 408 Queen St. W
- Show times: Fri. July 6 3:30 PM, Sat. July 7 3:30 PM, Sun. July 8 3:30 PM, Thu. July 12 3:30 PM, Fri. July 13 3:30 PM, Sat. July 14 3:30 PM, Sun. July 15 3:30 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