Toronto’s Scapegoat Collective presents Jeremy Taylors darkly comedic play Big Plans
The are a lot of things to love about independent in Toronto. Right now Big Plans – playing at Storefront Theatre – is one of them. It’s a perfectly polished gem of a show; an example of what happens when you have a really good script (Jeremy Taylor), really talented actors (Andy Trithardt, Daniel Pagett, and Maria Riscossa) and a really great director (Kat Sandler).
Spoilers follow. You may want to stop reading now and buy tickets to see the show. It’s an evening of terrific theatre and I’m going to gush through the rest of the review.
Playwright Taylor, inspired by the real-life story of the Rotenburg Cannibal, has written a hysterically funny play about cannibalism.
It wasn’t even difficult to accept the premise that Gordon was going to eat Henry with Henry’s agreement. In retrospect I find it disturbing that it was so easy for me to accept it. Still, the tag line on the publicity poster is “Looking for a well-built male to be slaughtered and consumed.” so I can’t say it was unexpected.
I saw Big Plans with Kate and Megan and we all loved it. And all for pretty much the same reasons.
Much of the dialogue is hilarious although the play is also disturbing, scary, and heart-breaking. For most of the play only Trithardt and Pagett are on stage and they work together beautifully. Their timing is wonderful.
Trithardt, as Gordon, is charming, controlling, icy, angry, and sometimes questioning as he persuades Henry to go through with their deal. Pagett’s Henry is tense, nervous, questioning, sad, and sometimes utterly adorable as he tries to make up his mind.
Ricossa, as Gordon’s mother Alice, makes a late appearance in the play and delivers some back-story while smoking, drinking scotch, and reminding Gordon to watch his manners. I think I’ve met her.
I think I’ve met all three of them. Their performances were so natural, they seemed like real people. Weird and disturbing, but real.
Everything about the play felt natural. Even the asides to audience didn’t feel contrived. The only unnatural thing about the play is that the audience is written into the script.
Sandler’s direction is superb. She gives the audience lots of room to laugh as well as room to appreciate the more serious moments. She had very talented actors to work with and she let them shine.
Jenna McCutchen’s set was terrific. The stage area at Storefront is small and the set was actually big but somehow made the stage seem larger. There were four discrete areas; a kitchen with a full sized fridge and stove at the back of the stage, a table and four chairs in front of that, a big claw footed bathtub on one side of the stage, and a club chair and side table on the other.
Sometimes the characters were together in one area and at other times they were in different areas but still talking to each other. It felt as if there were actually rooms on the stage.
My favourite part of Tim Lindsay’s sound design was the whisper of jazz from time to time.
Kudos to everyone involved with the production. It really exemplified the magic of theatre. I highly recommend it. Not for young audiences though.
- Big Plans is playing at the Storefront Theatre (955 Bloor St W.) until September 20th
- Performances are Wednesday through Sunday at 8:00 pm and a matinee on Sundays at 2:00 pm
- Opening week tickets are $20.00, after that they are $25.00
- Tickets are available online and at the door
Photo of Andy Trithardt and Daniel Pagett by John Gundy