Playwright Trevor Poelman’s If It’s Not Too Much Trouble was the winner of the 2013 Toronto Fringe Festival‘s 24 Hour Playwriting Contest. It’s an engaging piece boasting an endearing cast of characters and some very funny lines. The three Davis children, and one boyfriend, are getting ready for their parents’ 25th Anniversary.
In a way the play is a drawing room play that takes place in a living room. All the characters have a problem or a secret. We know it’s all going to work out well in the end. The fun is seeing how they get there; it’s never in a straight line. When a play like this works it’s a sweet theatre experience. When it doesn’t, it isn’t.
If It’s Not Too Much Trouble works. For the most part. There are a few jarring notes when the play slides into sit-com territory but it recovers and gets back on track. I think the play has legs. It has potential to be a longer play or a movie.
There’s a danger with this kind of piece that the characters will become caricatures. Poelman also co- directed the piece with Erin Norton (who is also the Stage Manager, Fringe, the festival of many hats) and has done a great job of keeping this fairly believable. It helps that he has a talented cast who seem to enjoy working together. It looked like there was some strong chemistry on stage.
Kristy LaPointe plays Christie, the middle child, perfectly. She’s the one who has to keep everyone else in line and making sure that they’re ready for the party. She’s funny and nice with a bit of an edge.
Her older sister Leslie (Adele Dicks), on the other hand, is all edge. Dismissive of everyone and a bit nasty. Will she be able to make the transition to nicer girl?
Glen (Nathan Costa) is the youngest, the flaky one, the eccentric. Costa plays him as weird but lovable, someone who cares about his family.
Last, although first in my book, is Don, played adorably by Damien Doepping. He’s Christie’s boyfriend and is the voice of sanity and reason.
For a lot of the play there are two characters on stage. It’s a clever way to tell the audience the story. One character tells another character what’s going on with a third character.
I really liked the characters. Sure they were kind of weird but what family isn’t?
If It’s Not Too Much Trouble is a lovely piece of feel good theatre. You won’t regret going to see it.
If It’s Not Too Much Trouble is playing at Helen Gardiner Phelan Playhouse (79 St George St)
July 05 at 09:15 PM
July 07 at 10:45 PM
July 08 at 04:45 PM
July 10 at 09:30 PM
July 11 at 05:15 PM
July 12 at 07:00 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 Nathan Costa, Damien Doepping, Kristy LaPointe and Adele Dicks by by Laura Huddart