As soon as I got out of Ally & Kev (playing at the TPM Backspace as part of the SummerWorks Festival), my phone rang and a friend asked about the plot. I summarized it for her:
It felt like a series of horrible and tedious things happening to a collection of horrible and tedious people.
The actual plot is a meaty one: two siblings break into a suburban kitchen, intending to torture and then murder the boy who raped the sister. There is potential in this premise, but I felt it was completely unfulfilled.
In order to buy in to the story, we must accept that Ally (the sister) was formerly an innocent. When she turns to the audience and says “I’ve never really hurt anyone before”, we must believe her. To put it bluntly, I didn’t. Ally struck me as unstable bordering on outright schizophrenic: the sort of person who has violent arguments about who should open a refrigerator door. Both siblings fling madly between friendly congeniality and white-hot rage, which rips the bottom off material which I thought desperately cried out for careful, delicate characterization.
It doesn’t help that the script and director seemed to drop subtle hints as if they were anvils. When Ally bites into an apple, I could practically hear a tour guide sitting on my shoulder, yelling into my ear: “The apple represents her fall from grace! It’s a bible reference! Be sure to write that down so you remember it later!” The fact that audience members laughed at several moments which seemed intended to be deep and meaningful is also telling.
There are a number of elements to this show which are intended to be shocking and chilling. Unfortunately, I found that these elements were so predictable that you could practically set your watch to them. I won’t go into further detail to avoid spoiling the entire second act, but any sort of suspense or buildup was, in my view, wasted on fairly lukewarm and well-worn twists.
It’s a bad sign when someone in the front row starts cranking out text messages halfway through the show, yet I couldn’t blame her. The actors are trying very hard, but I found the direction so blunt and the script so weak that there’s just not much they could have salvaged. A series of horrible and tedious things happen to a collection of horrible and tedious people. The end.
Runtime: ~60 minutes.
- Ally & Kev plays at the Theatre Passe Muraille backspace, 16 Ryerson Avenue. (One block northeast of Queen and Bathurst.)
- Performance dates include: Sat. the 11th at 11:30 AM; Sun the 12th at 9:30 PM; Tue. the 14th at 9:30 PM; Fri. the 17th at 9:30 PM; Sat. the 18th at 7:00 PM.
- All individual SummerWorks tickets are $15 at the door (cash only). Tickets are available online at http://ticketwise.ca, By phone by calling the Lower Ossington Box Office at 416-915-6747, in person at the Lower Ossington Box Office (located at 100A Ossington Avenue) Mon. – Sun. 12PM-7PM (Advance tickets are $15 + service fee)
- Several money-saving passes are available if you plan to see at least 3 shows.
Photograph of Cara Gee and Shannon Kook by Alex Felipe Photography. Image does not reflect final casting.