Mutts or: 101 Libations (Gracie May Theatre Company) 2017 Toronto Fringe Review

Mutts or: 101 Libationsblack and white poster of a dog by Chloé Olson produced by Gracie May Theatre Company is playing at the 2017 Toronto Fringe. Warren and Bruce are long time buddies and fellow alcoholic dog-nappers. They both find themselves at rock bottom, ready to give up their lives of crime and their friendship. As their last heist goes awry, they come face to face with the consequences of their addictions and unhealthy relationship.

This was a show I was really excited to see. On paper the premise was hilarious and had the potential to be a comedy hit. On stage, however, the story left me feeling confused and underwhelmed.

For me, the play seemed to start at the three quarter mark of the story arc. I really wanted to explore the relationship between Warren and Bruce and how they ended up stealing dogs to support their alcohol addiction. Instead the scenes seemed to repeat themselves and introduced characters that didn’t seem to support the plot or motivate the main characters’s actions. There were many scenes between Bruce and Warren that had them arguing about drinking and stealing dogs that didn’t have emotional change for the characters in any way.

To me, Joey Monahan’s direction didn’t seem to help the actors navigate their way through the confusing script. I would have loved to seen more eye contact between the actors and more natural, motivated movement. I did enjoy Billy Craigen’s portrayal of Bruce, the spacey, freeloading friend. He was able to elevate the script, and got the most chuckles out of the audience.

Technically, I found that there were a handful of blackouts in between scenes that didn’t seem to move location or change in time. I think music could have really helped the flow of the show. The energy between the scene changes was stale and all you could hear was the buzzing of the lights.

I think it’s easy to overcomplicate simple ideas, but in the end, trying new ideas is what Fringe is all about. I would love to see this show have life again. The idea was most definitely there, I think it just needed some more cleaning before it went up on stage.

Details

  • Mutts or: 101 Libations plays at the St. Vladimir Institute. (620 Spadina 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 admitted.
  • Content Warnings: Unsuitable for Minors, Sexual Content, Mature Language.
  • This venue is wheelchair-accessible through a secondary route. After the building’s business hours, a staff member will need to escort you through this route, so plan to arrive early for evening shows.

Performances

  • Friday July 7th, 05:00 pm
  • Saturday July 8th, 09:15 pm
  • Sunday July 9th, 07:00 pm
  • Tuesday July 11th, 01:00 pm
  • Thursday July 13th, 09:45 pm
  • Friday July 14th, 01:45 pm
  • Saturday July 15th, 12:00 pm

Photo by Chloé Olson

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