Dreams of Summer’s End, playing at the Toronto Fringe Festival, is a four hander that is made up of scenes, flashbacks and monologues which address the fraught subject of the difficulty in relationships between women and men.
The play’s central motif, a huge queen-size bed, is set in the middle of the stage. Its uncompromising position there leaves us in no doubt that it will be seeing some action. Unfortunately, the first scene begins as a recognizably foolish attempt at sex when both parties have been drinking. It ends in a very much more sinister way, and I squirmed in my seat as I felt it set a tone for disaster.
Throughout the play, two young couples are trying to explain their failures and insecurities in trying to succeed with the opposite sex. The monologues seem to be the stronger parts of this play, as the actors seem most comfortable when addressing the audience directly. However, the content seemed to be rather clichéd, and although one character referred to a “hipster grocery list”, and to the Rob Ford’s dreadful comments about his sex life at home, I felt that the young cast were not as contemporary in their outlook as they could have been.
The relationships criss-crossed, and became muddled. There were lies and deceits, fights over who does laundry, and scenes of awkward sex, which worked as they did make me feel, well, awkward. The use of flashbacks also worked, but didn’t really tell me anything I didn’t already know, so there was no great revelation in them. I knew what the director, Tristan Rivé, was aiming for – but I wasn’t convinced by his choices of staging, or his development of a through story line.
The scene changes could have used some music to cover them, as we were met with an awful silence whilst they took place. Silence was also used often during scenes, so sometimes dialogue was slow. I was surprised by the ending, as it seemed to very strongly echo the beginning of the play, and I wasn’t sure if it was meant to be the same scene.
All in all, I felt the actors made the best of the script, with the highlight of the show being their monologues.
Dreams of Summer’s End plays at the Robert Gill Theatre. (214 College St. near College and St. George) Use St. George St. entrance only – 3rd floor.
July 02 at 10:30 PM
July 05 at 12:30 PM
July 06 at 11:00 PM
July 07 at 05:15 PM
July 09 at 07:45 PM
July 10 at 09:15 PM
July 11 at 04:30 PM
Tickets for all mainstage productions are $10 at the door, cash only. Advance tickets are $12, and can be purchased online , by phone (416-966-1062), 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 if you are going to at least five shows; see website for details.
LATECOMERS ARE NEVER ADMITTED TO FRINGE SHOWS. To avoid disappointment, be sure to arrive a few minutes before curtain.
Photo of Daniel Cristofori, Nisheeth Proshanti, Bradley Grahams, Karina Lynn and Tristan Rivé by Rochelle Rubinstein