The Collectors by Broken Cloud Company is a play describing the difficulties of financial and emotional debt. The Toronto Fringe performance at Robert Gill Theatre demonstrates the mental strain of being unable to pay back what one has taken.
Hannah Parsons, played by Monica Walsh, is plagued by constant telephone calls demanding she get her affairs in order. The collectors Mr. Maggat (Justin Stayshyn), Mrs. Smith (Rebecca Davey) and Mr. Virtue (George Evans) pester Hannah every few minutes with another phone call.
Because of the number of phone calls from the collectors, Hannah’s dialogue felt increasingly repetitious. To each collector she claimed she had no money, no family, no friends, or no way to pay them back until she finished her work. The repeated answers felt like a lazier way to extend the play by making the plot stand still.
I would have preferred if the collectors were dealt with in different ways. With Mrs. Smith, Hannah was sweet, but with both Mr. Maggat and Mr. Virtue, Hannah attempted to weasel out of the phone call with seduction. The three collectors could have created three entirely unique situations. I did not feel like the play used the possibilities of interaction to its advantage.
I don’t mind strangeness in a play, as long as it feels like it belongs. The Collectors made odd choices that felt like they were shoehorned into the plot to appear more unique. Mrs. Smith was portrayed by a pregnant woman whose telephone was a bottle of liquor, which she drank from every few minutes. Or, at one point, Mr. Maggat and Mr. Virtue show up in only underpants and superhero capes. The scenarios are not funny, just unnecessarily strange.
While delving into the stresses of being in financial debt is an interesting idea, The Collectors didn’t get too far with it. This is especially disappointing because the situation is so relatable, but the play made it difficult for me to connect as an audience member. From where I sat, The Collectors swung for a hard-hitting topic–and sadly missed.
July 7th – 5:45 pm
July 10th – 12:15 pm
July 11th – 8:45 pm
July 12th – 4:30 pm
July 14th – 9:00 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.
Photograph of Monica Walsh by Ryan Fischer