Mo and Jess Kill Susie (Harley Dog Productions) 2013 Toronto Fringe Review

Jacklyn Francis, Katie Messina and Siobhan Richardson in Mo and Jess Kill Susie

Mo and Jess Kill Susie is the first play I have seen at The Toronto’s Fringe Festival 2013. It might also be the best play I’ve ever seen at Fringe. It’s a site specific play with performances happening at the lower level of Trinity-St. Paul’s. When the play finished, I dried my eyes then contacted my editors. My message was simple: I love this play!

The cast of three is all female, and the audience was at least 80 per cent female on the night I attended. Don’t get the wrong idea though: Mo and Jess Kill Susie is anything but a stroller convention. This could very well be the most intense, violent play I have seen.

Mo and Jess Kill Susie is the story of two women who take a female police officer hostage. It’s an act of terrorism that goes wrong, very wrong. Do acts of terrorism ever go “right”?

Yes, the play was written by a man (Gary Henderson). No, it isn’t overly clever by turning the tables and making women more violent than men. I thought at times it spoke in a female voice that I disagreed with as a male.

The women playing Mo (Siobhan Richardson) and Jess (Katie Messina) are both absolutely riveting. They both bring a charisma, a soul, to their roles that make these two violent female characters relatable. That’s no small feat, and Richardson and Messina have an amazing chemistry onstage that I hope is explored further.

I’ve seen Jacklyn Francis (Susie) in other plays and thought she was magnificent. I haven’t made up my mind about this performance yet. I thought she made the kidnapped police office come across as more of an entitled socialite than a person serving the public. At times Susie’s police pyscho-babble came across as transparent and annoying, and I really did encourage Mo to pull the trigger. Maybe we are supposed to feel that way, who knows?

Mo and Jess Kill Susie is a play that will engage you from start to finish. At over an hour, it will feel like 10 or 15 minutes. To paraphrase a line from the play, “the minutes keep getting thicker”. Come to think of it, “engage” might be too weak of a word. What’s a four-letter word for “soil your Levi’s”?

This is an absolute gem that I would love to see again, perhaps in a slightly more polished form. I strongly advise arriving early or securing advanced tickets, as seating is limited.

Details:

  • Mo and Jess Kill Susie is playing at Trinity St. Paul’s – Lower Level (427 Bloor Street)
  • Showtimes: July 03 07:30 PM , July 04 07:30 PM, July 05 07:30 PM, July 06 01:30 PM, July 06 07:30 PM, July 07 07:30 PM, July 08 07:30 PM, July 10 07:30 PM, July 11 07:30 PM, July 12 07:30 PM, July 13 01:30 PM, July 13 07:30 PM
  • Individual Fringe tickets are available at the door for $10 ($5 for FringeKids), cash only. Late comers will not be permitted.
  • Advance tickets are $11 ($9 + $2 service charge) are available online at fringetoronto.com, by phone at 416-966-1062 ext 1, or in person during the festival at the Festival Box Office in the parking lot behind Honest Ed’s (581 Bloor St W).
  • Value packs are available if you plan to see at least 5 shows