What draws me to Empty Box Theatre Company‘s Waiting for Alonzo, now playing as part of the Toronto Fringe Festival, is the same thing that drew me to the 2013 Broadway revival of Waiting for Godot with Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart: a funny, complex, and ultimately loving friendship between two compelling characters in the face of oblivion.
Like Waiting for Godot, Keavy Lynch’s play features two characters thinking out loud about a variety of issues that affect humanity (and especially womankind, in the case of Waiting for Alonzo) while they wait for another character to appear. In Alonzo, that waiting just so happens to take place on a space ship that is flying away from a decimated planet Earth.
As a play, Waiting for Alonzo has a lot more going for it than just its interesting intellectual wrestling with issues like slactivism, climate change, and the beauty industry. It has stellar performances from all three of its cast members, a cool little sci-fi world of its own, and some of the biggest laughs available at the Toronto Fringe Festival.
Victoria Urqhart commands the stage as Zanita, the rocket scientist who managed to save our characters from the Earth’s destruction, now turned into a beauty obsessed tyrant. Her command over her body is astonishing. I was really impressed by the understated elegance of the way she moved her legs, which Zanita rebuilt for “looks and not for function.”
Hayley Malouin also has really great physicality in her comic role of Bielke, Zanita’s assistant. However, she really shines in her delivery of some of the show’s best lines. I find almost nothing more funny than hearing her sweet character spout off depressing, nihilistic mock-truisms like “don’t worry about the pimples on your skin because you’ll have no skin after you’re dead” in her most pleasant voice.
The third cast member, Kevin Chew, plays Andre, a man-shaped robot that represents the spaceship’s mainframe. Aside from standing still, looking gorgeous, and delivering pithy observational remarks to the other two characters, Chew gets to show off his dance moves in an enthralling scene that ends in a darkly funny moment that I won’t spoil. It is at once uplifting, hilarious, and melancholic.
Those three words might describe the play as a whole. And for me, that made viewing it a highly enjoyable experience. It was an absolute joy to be brought in to the world of these fascinating characters for 45 brief minutes and I would love to spend more time there in the future!
- Waiting for Alonzo is playing until July 15 at the Theatre Passe Muraille Mainspace. (16 Ryerson Avenue)
- Tickets are $12 in advance, $10 at the door. The festival also offers a range of money-saving passes for serious Fringers.
- Tickets can be purchased online, by phone (416-966-1062), from the festival box office down Honest Ed’s Alley (581 Bloor West), or from the venue box office starting one hour before the peformance. Venue sales are cash-only.
- Be advised that Fringe performances always start exactly on time, and latecomers are never admitted. Set your watch to CBC time, and arrive a few minutes early to avoid disappointment.
- [Supplementary Notes]
July 05 at 01:45 PM
July 06 at 03:00 PM
July 09 at 04:00 PM
July 10 at 07:30 PM
July 11 at 05:45 PM