I got to see it this evening, and I wish I had better news to report. I’m still not entirely sure what to make this of this strange production about bubble-imbibing, hallucinating vinyl lovers.
I’m hip! I’ve taken hallucinogens! Real ones, not soap bubbles. I’ve tripped; opened my third eye; seen auras, flowing waves in flooring patterns, and numerous things that weren’t really there. This show sounded like a cool choice for me.
Then again, so did all of those acid trips in college. I’ll start with what I liked about it.
Firstly, the music – happily, since this was a musical. Specifically, I enjoyed the live guitar and bass action (don’t quote me on the instruments present – this is an educated guess). It ranged from funky, to rock, to creepy, to sexy bass (yes, I made up most of those genres). The fact that most of it was played by a lawyer wearing a button-up and a diaper is of little consequence. Stick with me.
The individual performances were all pretty solid, given the odd material the actors were working with. The standout for me was Jennifer Nagy Lake, who played both the firefighter and Eli, the lovely, sexy, but also vaguely terrifying leader of the Vinyl gang. I found her stage presence impressive.
The costumes were clever, bright, and fun. I’d love to raid the cast’s wardrobes before a sizzling Pride party at a sex club.
I also really enjoyed the singing. If not for the… baffling? strange? silly? lyrics (which to the songwriter’s credit, rhymed marvellously), it would have been perfect. Which I guess brings me to the parts I didn’t like so much.
Ultimately, I think the writing was either way over my head, or just incredibly personalized. It almost felt like I was watching an inside joke being played out. Or possibly an interpretation of someone’s LSD journal. The main elements – the agoraphobe, the hallucinogenic quasi-cult, and the really unbelievable love story – all brought together in what seemed to shift between the street and a strip club (maybe? I’m unsure) just confused me.
Though the runtime was only 55 minutes, it felt much, much longer. Despite all of the chaos, loud music, flashing lights, and frantic energy on stage, it barely kept my attention. I feel that with some greater character development, a bit more backstory, and a bit less inexplicable diaper- and garbage can-wearing (representing freedom, no less), this would have been a much more cohesive and enjoyable show.
- House of Vinyl plays at the Robert Gill Theatre. (214 College St)
- Tickets are $12 at the door and in advance, and can be bought online, by telephone (416-966-1062), from the Fringe Club at Honest Ed’s Alley, and — if any remain — from the venue’s box office starting one hour before curtain. The festival also offers a range of money-saving passes for serious Fringers.
- Be aware that Fringe performances always start exactly on time, and that latecomers are never admitted.
- Content Warning: Mature Language.
- This venue is wheelchair-accessible.
- Thursday June 30th, 06:00 pm
- Saturday July 2nd, 01:45 pm
- Sunday July 3rd, 08:45 pm
- Tuesday July 5th, 02:45 pm
- Wednesday July 6th, 08:00 pm
- Thursday July 7th, 11:00 pm
- Saturday July 9th, 12:00 pm
Photo of performers provided by the company