Theatre Brouhaha’s Help Yourself, playing at the Toronto Fringe Festival, is the sort of play where men yell profanity-ridden tirades about sex and violence at each other until it culminates in an act of violence that involves tables being turned. I feel like that is its own sub-genre and that Help Yourself didn’t do anything new with it, but that’s ok because it’s funny and dark and dirty.
Donny is a wealthy young man who likes to lavish his money on his pretty blonde girlfriend, Samantha who has expensive tastes. He makes all this cash by being, as he tells Samantha, a self-employed “consultant.” He consults for people in moral quandaries. But nobody gets rich by doing good: Donny helps his clients by finding justification for the bad things they want to do.
Ted is his client on the day of the play, a big blue collar guy, and Ted has been betrayed. Ted wants to kill the person who has betrayed him but he is held back by thinking that he is a good person, and by thinking that murder is wrong. Donny is just the man to convince him otherwise, using invective, sophistry and liberal amounts of Jack Daniels.
The actors pull off the rapid-fire back and forth dialogue with great aplomb, and Kat Sandler’s script is slick and witty. A part of me wishes that the reveal at the end hadn’t been really obviously broadcast from the outset, but there was no way to avoid that within the structure of the play. As it was, it allowed the audience to focus on process of stripping away the veneer of civilized society to reveal the darkness in the hearts of humans, without also trying to figure out what is actually going on.
- Help Yourself is playing at Venue 6 – George Ignatieff Theatre, 15 Devonshire Place
- It plays at July 04 10:30 PM, July 07 05:45 PM, July 09 07:45 PM, July 10 09:45 PM, July 12 12:00 PM, July 13 04:30 PM, July 14 03:30 PM
- All individual Fringe tickets are $10 at the door (cash only). Tickets are also 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 (Advance tickets are $11 – $9+$2 service charge)
- Value packs are available if you plan to see at least 5 shows