I’ve taken an interest in site-specific theatre recently and have chosen to see a few site-specific works at this year’s Toronto Fringe Festival. Big Metal Box is one of the shows that piqued my curiosity. It’s an anthology of four mini plays staged inside a large storage locker.
The four performances that make up Big Metal Box aren’t really related in any way other than the fact that they share a setting. Starting off with a specific location and then writing a series of short plays set in that location feels like the type of play writing exercise you’d undertake in theatre school.
Writer/director Kristofer Van Soelen developed this piece in collaboration with the cast and sure enough there’s a bit of a theatre-school-exercise quality that pervades the show. The results are a bit uneven and some of the plays are more successful than others.
The opening piece where an actor (Gabriella Colavecchio) wakes up in a storage locker caged in with a group of strangers (the audience), decides to resort to cannibalism to survive and sets out decide who to sacrifice starts the show off on a quirky, irreverent tone.
The next scene features a homeless man who thinks he’s a superhero (Kevin Ritchie) giving an interview to a reporter. It’s an interesting concept that I don’t think is fully developed in the script. The monologue felt a bit one-note to me. It could definitely be edited down and made tighter. I also don’t think it needs to be a two-parter with another scene sandwiched in between.
The scene featuring a muslim woman (Nadine Bha Bha) taking off her veil and painting to music for ten minutes probably has some deeper, philosophical meaning but is a bit too subtle to register compared to the other scenes.
However, the final scene where a man (Andrew Perun) meets his mail-order Korean bride (Eun Jung Nam) for the first time is scintillating. It’s wonderfully layered and tensions build throughout the scene to a surprising conclusion.
- Big Metal Box plays at Apple Self Storage (530 Adelaide St.)
- Show times: July 03 08:00 PM, July 04 08:00 PM, July 05 08:00 PM, July 06 03:00 PM, July 07 03:00 PM, July 10 08:00 PM, July 11 08:00 PM, July 12 08:00 PM, July 13 03:00 PM, July 14 03:00 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 Fringe Club, 581 Bloor St. W, July 3rd-14th, noon – 10pm (Advance tickets are $11 – $9+$2 service charge)
- Value packs are available if you plan to see at least 5 shows