Review: Threesome: An Evening Of One Acts (Minmar Gaslight Productions)

Threesome: An Evening Of One Acts plays at Red Sandcastle Theatre, Toronto ON. Feb. 16-20, 2016

Toronto’s Red Sandcastle Theatre presents an evening of one acts with “something for everyone”

When you are experimenting with new works and going to present them in front of an audience, boy am I ever glad it’s in a one act format. Threesome: An Evening of One Acts playing at The Red Sandcastle Theatre claims to have something for everyone. This is true. Unfortunately though, everything is not for everyone.

The show started off relatively strong. Steven Elliott Jackson’s writing is descriptive and heightened. He would be an easy contender to write an episode of Gilmore Girls. The whole first play, “By Myself But Not Alone” was in essence a one man show told in third person and had a lot of humorous moments.

Although well written, this play felt slightly detached for me. Keeping it in third person made it appear like the actor, Holm Bradwell, wasn’t quite letting it fully sink in to his bones even though I could tell he had it in him. I felt like putting the piece into the immediate moment would have helped, instead of it feeling like a memory piece.

The second one act, “The Same”, starring Nick May and Olivia John was again, another well written piece by Jackson. I really enjoyed the format he chose to use in this play. It also won my favors by being a two-hander and keeping it a little more jaunty and active in the back and forth dialogue. I enjoyed the lighting play that was incorporated, where the actors had to snap for their light to come up in order to speak. It was cute because it became a game.

There were a few technical difficulties due to the quick timing and back and forth of lighting cues and unfortunately, May never quite found his light. He was standing just off centre the whole show which was slightly distracting from his strong performance. John started off slow at first, seeming a bit inauthentic by not letting May’s words land before reacting, but as she warmed up she was off to the races.

Rounding out the night was ,”Dead Pussy”. This play was not my cup of tea. The writing felt like it was still in its incubation phase and as a result, the acting felt a little melodramatic. It just seemed to never end and there were a lot of “hit you over the head with a subliminal message” moments where it kind of felt like a PSA for drinking irresponsibly and the consequences.

Kyra Soukup and Nikki Hogan joined the full cast in this last piece and lent a bit of a new dynamic when they entered the scene. Soukup, as Ingrid, a girl who gets verbally attacked by May’s character during a drunken night, was perhaps one of the strongest actors up there. She was deeply rooted and coming from a very real place and since the venue at Red Sandcastle Theatre is small, her performance fit perfectly.

Hogan, as Ingrid’s mother, in a particularly melodramatic part of the play where she delivers a sort of eulogy, ends up having to reiterate everything we had just seen in the previous ten minutes. Had it been tailored down a bit, the play might have been the length it should have been, capping out at around ten minutes. Instead, there were many false endings which felt extremely drawn out. I didn’t know how much longer the actors could keep up the crocodile tears. I see what Jackson was going for here but it felt a little too hokey. Maybe with some tweaking it could have felt a little more authentic.

All in all, Threesome: An Evening Of One Acts held up it’s end of the bargain. They said there would be something for everyone and my guest and I felt that was true. Like I said, I really enjoyed Jackson’s writing in the first and second piece and even found myself identifying with parts of them. The night moves relatively quickly and the beauty of one acts is if you don’t identify with one, the next one isn’t far behind. This is the perfect evening for someone who enjoys a bit of variety while supporting new works in progress.

Details:

Photo of Kyra Soukup and Nick May by Steven Elliot Jackson

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