Celebrated Canadian playwright George F. Walker is often a favourite among young theatre artists; his gritty, twisted stories are peppered with comedy, making for a viewing experience that is simultaneously uncomfortable and thoroughly enjoyable. So it’s no wonder that tonight’s performance of Adult Entertainment opened to a nearly full house. While the show did earn a lot of laughs, I think that, unfortunately, director Christopher Hayes had a fundamental misunderstanding of the play. A lack of realism combined with some rather flat staging made for an underwhelming performance, despite the capability of the cast.
My initial impression of the set (built by Mike Vitorovich) was that it was impressive for a Fringe show; though minimal, the dated, mis-matched furniture and messy bed did immediately give me the sense of a rundown motel. As the show progressed however, I did question the placement of the bathroom and front doors; not only did they seem to not make spatial sense, but their positioning didn’t support the staging, blocking important moments like Max’s entrance in the final act, and giving undue importance to character’s time spent in the bathroom. These sort of confusing, missed opportunities in staging dogged the production. Despite having the relatively large playing space of the Tarragon Mainstage, the action was limited to a few small areas on stage, and most of the movements felt unnatural and unmotivated.
The opening scene between Jayne (Joanne Sarazen) and Max (Thom Zimerle) did succeed in getting laughs, but lacked the realism that I think the script requires. It felt as though the actors were performing in a different play, one out-of-date and relying on tired cliches rather than sincere moments. It should be said, however, that all of the actors seemed to be playing this way, which makes me suspect it was more a case of misdirection than a lack of talent on any of their parts. Sarazen and Zimerle’s opening scene was funny, while somewhat missing the mark, but in the final few moments of the play they were able to achieve a closeness that was really beautiful. Similarly, Melanie Pyne as Pam made for a very believable scorned and depressed wife, and was the highlight of the show in the dream scene.
Some of my issues with the show may be ones that fade away after a few more performances; the fight sequence between Max (Zimerle) and Donny (Antonino Pruiti) was choreographed fine but not executed well, possibly something that will improve after a few more runs. It was still an enjoyable evening out, unfortunately, I think the lack of strong direction will keep this excellent script and the shows relatively strong cast from meeting their full potential.
- Adult Entertainment plays at the Tarragon Theatre Mainspace (30 Bridgman Ave.)
- Tickets are $12. The festival also offers a range of money-saving passes for serious Fringers.
- Tickets can be purchased online, by telephone (416-966-1062), from the Fringe Club at Scadding Court, and — if any remain — from the venue’s box office starting one hour before curtain.
- Be aware that Fringe performances always start exactly on time, and that latecomers are never permitted.
- Content Warnings: Not Recommended for Persons Under 14, Gunshots, Sexual Content, Smoking, Mature Language.
- This venue is accessible.
- Wednesday July 5, 8:30pm
- Friday July 7, 3:00pm
- Sunday July 9, 8:15pm
- Tuesday July 11, 10:30pm
- Thursday July 13, 4:00pm
- Friday July 14, 12:15pm
- Sunday July 16, 5:45pm
Photo of Thom Zimerle, Joanne Sarazen, Melanie Pyne and Antonino Pruiti by Chantal Ryanne.