Neighbours (Mme. Fancy Pants Productions) 2012 Toronto Fringe Review

Absurdity with a political edge abounds in Mme. Fancy Pants Productions’ Neighbours, part of this year’s Toronto Fringe Festival and playing at the George Ignatieff Theatre.

The show centers on Rayyan, a young woman who is taken from her home one night by a good-cop/bad-cop team of interrogators. Rayyan is questioned, psychologically tested and threatened, because she is believed to be part of the Plums and possibly affiliated with certain violent, terrorist-equivalent activities.

The play does amazing things with language and word-play, using a vocabulary both completely unfamiliar though comprehensible at the same time. For instance, Rayyan’s captors aren’t asking questions, they’re asking ‘inquiries’, they drink ‘liquids’ and they don’t eat, they ‘gourmandize’. The use of language is really interesting and fun to try and piece together what they’re actually talking about.

Where the show seems to get stale is in the rising action. The actors reach a certain point in the action, the heat begins to rise, but it never really explodes. The tension builds in stages, and stays at roughly the same level throughout the show. The actors seemed to go borderline all-in or completely back off, there wasn’t much in between. However, the good-cop/bad-cop team of Robert Fulton and James R. Woods were interesting to watch, especially when they suddenly entered the scene in stilts.

And the stilts were, besides the script, one of the only truly absurd moments in the piece. I commend the guys for walking in them, having been to circus school myself, it’s certainly not easy. What struck me as most odd though, was the introduction of two additional characters at the very conclusion of the show.

All in all, the show was neither here nor there. The pacing was a bit slow, and I’m hoping that after a couple more performances, the dialogue will be tighter, the lines spoken faster and the actors will be more comfortable.

Details:

  • Neighbours is playing at the George Ignatieff Theatre (15 Devonshire Place).
  • Performances: July 08 09:45 PM, July 10 04:00 PM, July 11 12:00 PM, July 12 08:00 PM, July 15 05:30 PM
  • All individual Fringe tickets are $10 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

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