Not good (James MartEntz) 2017 Toronto Fringe Review

Photo of Daniel Entz

Not Good is a one-man show by Jame MartEnz playing at the 2017 Toronto Fringe Festival. Here, an actor explores what it is to be an actor and a playwright, creating work for yourself, and the learning curve of an industry of dichotomies.

Our leading man, Daniel Entz, is an engaging, committed actor. His look, his style, his voice and his approach all draw me in to want to learn more about him. That said, this show kept landing just shy of true hilarity or sorrow.

A stream of consciousness with no distinct story arc, one must simply go along for this ride and hope it ends up…somewhere, anywhere. It does, but the destination is more impactful than the journey.

The most powerful moments seem to arrive all at once in the final minutes of the show. After leading us through a brief ‘how to write a play’ seminar, our leading man asks us to trust him. And we do. And he shows up.

Up until those precious moments, we’re led down a draggy rabbit hole of self-reflection. Entz employs half the stage as real life, the other half as live-enacted ‘video clips’ from his past.

Initially, his transition between these two worlds is cleverly self-aware, as he noisily thunders behind the curtain, ruffling it as he goes, until he reappears stage left as himself in a new video environment.

After those first few, every backstage run became quieter and seemed more sincere, which made them feel unnecessarily long. A simple onstage cross would have achieved the same change with no love (or time) lost.

Entz’s reflection itself has good intentions. While I find him to be an interesting actor, I couldn’t decipher whether it was the writing or the direction bogging him down.

For a show with a premise entirely based on an actor’s thoughts, becoming too internal is a fine line to tread, one that was crossed more often than not.

Comedic guidance would benefit future exploration of this project, and I do think it’s worth exploring. Certain comedic bits, such as the cue cards, were quite funny choices, but the good work of their creation wasn’t done justice in the delivery.

Overall, this show feels like an earlier draft of what could be a fun, quirky show. As for now, it’s still quirky, and I don’t think Entz needs to worry about whether he himself is good or not.

Is this show good, not good? I think it depends what you value in a production. Go see Not Good and find out for yourself what plagues an actor’s mind, and maybe yours, too.

Details

  • Not Good 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 Warning: 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, 03:15 pm
  • Saturday July 8th, 11:00 pm
  • Monday July 10th, 05:00 pm
  • Tuesday July 11th, 02:45 pm
  • Thursday July 13th, 08:00 pm
  • Friday July 14th, 10:30 pm
  • Saturday July 15th, 04:00 pm

Photo of Daniel Entz by Keagan Heathers

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