The premise of SNAP!, produced by NightShift Theatre playing at the Toronto Fringe Festival, is simple: a group of strangers convene for a court-ordered anger management workshop. Over the course of the hour long session, we learn why each participant is there with stories ranging from absurd to grotesque.
Anger management struggles are something I know a little bit about, and I was curious as to how this complex issue would be treated in a lighthearted, short play. While there were a number of funny and engaging moments, I walked out of the theatre feeling a bit short changed on the plays’ coverage of anger management.
Some of this feeling may have stemmed from the fact that the talented cast had clearly not had the script for very long and some of the dialog felt awkward and forced. But I think my real difficulty with the play was that too much of the limited storytelling time was wasted on pointless shouting matches between the characters as group decorum repeatedly devolved over trifles.
I think these group skirmishes were meant to be funny, but I found them shouty and pointless more so than anything else. The pointless bickering left little time to flesh out the characters, rendering them two dimensional, and largely unrelatable. I did not emerge with a clear impression that the workshop participants had made any strides forward during the session, leaving the play feeling fairly directionless.
The most riveting dramatic moment was when we finally got the story of the mousy, Christian mom who ostensibly has no reason to be there. More moments like this surrounded by real conversations, would strengthen this play.
SNAP! essentially rubbed me the wrong way. I think there is a way to talk about anger that is funny, but also real. This story didn’t really give insight into what living with a lot of anger is like. Angry people are not continuously at the throats of random strangers over nonsense, and a psychoeducational workshop would never operate that way. The moments that were visceral, where characters described going to a primal place where others cannot or will not go in the face of overwhelming circumstances, were crowded out by noisy clutter.
Fringe shows are works in progress, and SNAP! has the potential to say something important about anger. There is enough background material to work with for each character that could be fleshed out and turned into witty work that holds a mirror up to humanity’s most potent emotion.
- SNAP! plays at Scadding Court. (707 Dundas St. W.)
- 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 admitted.
- The Fringe Festival considers this venue to be wheelchair-accessible.
- Wednesday July 5th, 06:15 pm
- Wednesday July 5th, 07:45 pm
- Thursday July 6th, 06:15 pm
- Thursday July 6th, 07:45 pm
- Saturday July 8th, 01:15 pm
- Saturday July 8th, 02:45 pm
- Tuesday July 11th, 07:15 pm
- Wednesday July 12th, 07:15 pm
- Thursday July 13th, 06:15 pm
- Thursday July 13th, 07:45 pm
- Friday July 14th, 07:15 pm
- Saturday July 15th, 01:15 pm
- Saturday July 15th, 02:45 pm
Photo of Allan Michael Brunet; Jillian Rees-Brown; Anastasia Kokolakis by Joanne Latimer