The Toronto Fringe Festival often features plays that take on the most current political issues. Dead Talks, produced by Roar in the Woods, takes a look at the issues of the “Me Too” movement in a way that brings it to a personal level, making it more relatable.
As a Political Science major, I really enjoy seeing plays that bring politics to life. In Dead Talks, a whole movement’s issues are boiled down to two people, Sylvie and Ben, and examined as a kind of cosmic he said/she said, where both parties see events in their own way.
Writers Rebecca Becket Grace and Josh Morris do a good job of taking a complex subject and presenting it in digestible form. There is so much ground to cover, and as such there are a lot of different scenes, with a lot of concepts to represent. There are only three actors in Dead Talks, and two of those actors played different roles when called upon. However, when there are no visual clues when the actor changes a role, it can take a minute to catch on.
The actors did a fine job. Maxx Finkelstein nails the Ted Talk inspirational speaker character, right down to her sparkly shoes. She is a Guide for the dead, yet she provides needed humour. Kimberley Wells’ performance as feminist Sylvie is earnest and shows Sylvie’s vulnerability. Josh Morris plays the sordid character of Ben, a book publisher who uses his position to force himself on women. Morris performs Ben in such a way that you realize how much Ben needs to lie to himself to convince himself that what he does is not so terrible. The last scene shows how Sylvie and Ben become bound together in shared Karma. I found the scene well done and impactful. There was nothing overt, and yet it showed what needed to be known.
What makes for the suspense in Dead Talks is that both Sylvie and Ben are in purgatory, and they have to come to the realization of their relationship as abused and abuser. The Guide for the dead doesn’t provide answers, which forces Sylvie and Ben to look at themselves and the lives they have led. You watch, wondering if they will make it out, and if they will go to Heaven or Hell.
- Dead Talks plays at the Tarragon Theatre Mainspace. (30 Bridgman Ave.)
- 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.
- This venue is barrier-free. Designated accessible seating is in the middle of the auditorium.
- Be aware that Fringe performances always start exactly on time, and that latecomers are never admitted.
- Wednesday July 4th, 6:45 pm
- Friday July 6th, 10:30 pm
- Sunday July 8th, 3:15 pm
- Tuesday July 10th, 6:30 pm
- Thursday July 12th, 4:00 pm
- Saturday July 14th, 7:00 pm
- Sunday July 15th, 12:00 pm
Photo of Josh M. Morris, Kimberley Wells, Maxx Finkelstein by Noah Morris