Bad Connections? (Thom Fogarty) 2012 Toronto Fringe Review

Stop. Look. Listen. I almost feel like I should thank Bad Connections? for reminding me to do this in my daily life. This solo show by New York playwright Michael Levesque is all about stopping and listening, to avoid the miscommunications that we all experience.

Paul Cosentino plays nine interrelated characters, from a new-age guru to a pregnant woman to a 4-year old boy, all dealing with a variety of personal issues. The play starts out as a series of monologues, but really picks up the pace in the second half when the characters interact and Cosentino is playing two-handers opposite himself.

I thought it was a really interesting choice to have one actor play all the roles, because it highlights the fact that we need to try harder to understand both sides of any conversation. The sets and sound are minimalist, just Cosentino alone onstage with a chair, so it’s all in the characters and performance to hold our attention.

Here is where I think Cosentino really delivers; he shifts personalities with excellent timing, being both funny and dramatic as the scenes dictate. I especially enjoyed one scene in which he describes what it’s like for a woman in her 50’s to feel ignored by society. In another male actor’s hands, this scene could come off as a patronizing caricature, but Cosentino is completely believable and sympathetic.

If there is one thing I could say against Bad Connections? – and it’s really a minor thing – it’s that the Fringe guide lists it as a comedy/drama. Though there are a handful of funny moments, there are many more quiet and contemplative ones, so I felt it was solidly in the “drama” category.

Stop. Look. Listen… Om…

Details

  • Bad Connections? is playing at Venue 7 – St. Vladmir’s Theatre, 620 Spadina Avenue
  • Show times: July 09 10:30 PM, July 10 04:30 PM, July 11 12:15 PM, July 13 04:00 PM, July 14 10:30 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