One for One Collective presents Dora-nominated playwright Michael Ross Albert’s two-handed thriller Anywhere at the Toronto Fringe Festival. A civilized business relationship turns into a tense struggle as two women face-off at an AirBnB.
This tight, intense thriller seems tailor made for me. I love sitting mere feet away from a scene of simmering tension, with the threat of violence lurking underneath the motions of resentful, distraught people trying to be civilized and reasonable. I just love how badly it can all go… and how very quickly that can happen.
When the lights first came up on Liz and Joy, I knew I was in for a treat. Immediately, their eyes betrayed something awful and secretive festering underneath awkward conversation. Gradually, as the women become increasingly intoxicated, we discover the details of an encounter they’d had the night before.
As they prod each other, deflecting and divulging in equal measure, the fabric of their relationship comes into clearer focus even as it unravels. The circumstances of their situation are revealed to be dark and sinister.
Michael Ross Albert’s script is a smart study of power dynamics, exploring issues of vulnerability, deception and desperation. A potent sense of dread permeates the story — an awareness of the burden of knowing other people, of being tied to them in some inevitable way. The play reveals that there is meaning and value in other people, but it comes at a painful cost.
Cass Van Wyck and Courtney Ch’ng Lancaster give fierce, funny, harrowing life to Liz and Joy. I empathized with them all the more as they became nastier, more abject, recognizing in them my own potential for self-loathing, emotional manipulation and violence.
That pervasive bad feeling that sits there from the very beginning is very carefully managed by director David Lafontaine to allow for the ample humour. We are given a few moments that are so precious because they are allowed to exist within that lingering anxiety that he never lets slip.
Anywhere is a poignant, thrilling experience that left me rattled. Don’t miss out!
- Anywhere plays at the Factory Theatre Studio. (125 Bathurst St.)
- Tickets are $13, including a $2 service charge. The festival also offers a range of money-saving passes and discounts for serious Fringers.
- Tickets can be purchased online, by telephone (416-966-1062), from the Festival Box Office at Scadding Court (707 Dundas St. W.), and — if any remain — from the venue’s box office starting one hour before curtain.
- Content Warnings: Mature language; Sexual content; Realistic violence or gore.
- The Fringe Festival considers this venue to be wheelchair-accessible.
- Be aware that Fringe performances always start exactly on time, and that latecomers are never admitted.
- Thursday July 5th, 9:30 pm
- Saturday July 7th, 7:45 pm
- Sunday July 8th, 4:30 pm
- Tuesday July 10th, 1:00 pm
- Thursday July 12th, 12:15 pm
- Friday July 13th, 11:15 pm
- Saturday July 14th, 2:15 pm
Photo of Courtney Ch’ng Lancaster and Cass Van Wyck by David Lafontaine