Play Actually–a non rom com (Idiot Presents) 2013 Toronto Fringe Review

hey_mister_print_5by7 Play Actually–a non rom com from Idiot Presents, playing at Fringe, is a collaboration by a real life straight couple, Tim Monley and Katy Houska. They explain that they came up with the show as an anathema to Disneyesque saccharine romantic comedies.

It  features a series of sketches that mostly involve Suzy, a woman with social difficulties who relies on advice from a dating book in her desperate attempts to get a man, and Gavin, who spends most of his time in a virtual world called Better Life where he has a girlfriend named Trinity who may not actually be female IRL (in real life).

Interspersed with these the audience becomes attendees at a pickup artist’s workshop and are also privy to the actors having spats and directly addressing us to explain and/or excuse aspects of their relationship and of the production.

Though there were some good jokes, the scenes didn’t finish with punch lines, or moments that seemed like a natural end. There was some payoff near the end of the show when Gavin and Suzy meet each other and the storylines converge.  Monley and Houska are very good physical comedians and they rely on body-and-facial expression and prop-based sight gags a lot. These were often very funny, but I wished the dialogue matched.

They are obviously in love with each other and make a very charming couple. It’s extra adorable that they created this show together and are touring it together. But, not to get kinky here (though they do happen to mention some pretty kinky things during the play!) it couldn’t hurt to invite a third person in, specifically a playwright.

It’s a 75 minute show and it really didn’t need to be longer than an hour, but it was still enjoyable. However, I do want to add that there should be some trigger warnings, both around the pickup artist stuff and also a scene at the end where Gavin literally picks up Suzy against her will. Suzy also has some issues with getting consent, and while I found Monley and Houska too endearing to be bothered by it myself, I do think that some real work on the script would not only make it funnier but also develop the potential social satire on topics like picking up, dating, gender roles, etc. I saw that satire in there, nascent and waiting to come out.


  • Tickets for all Mainstage productions are $10 at the door, cash only.
  • Advance tickets are $11, and can be purchased online, by phone (416-966-1062 ext. 1), or from the festival box office at the Fringe Club. (Rear of Honest Ed’s, 581 Bloor St. West)
  • Money-saving value packs are also available; see website for details.
  • LATECOMERS ARE NEVER ADMITTED TO FRINGE SHOWS. To avoid disappointment, be sure to arrive a few minutes before curtain.

Image of Tim Monley and Katy Houska provided by Idiot Presents