Moving On (playing at the Toronto Fringe Festival) is an economical farce. All the traditional pieces are there: slamming doors, scantily-dressed women, physical peril, and class parody. But with just four actors, two hiding places, one unfortunate plant, and 90 minutes to let it all percolate, well… let’s just say that all four performers have a lot of limes in the air.
Kyle (Casey Romanin) has a good thing going: an apartment in the big city, a promising career as a Generic Handwavey Tech Guy, and a contact (Lena Maripuu) who could make him extremely rich — if he plays his cards right.
But in the middle of negotiations, his free-spirited ex-girlfriend (Anastasia Pioro) drops out of the sky, followed by her piece-of-work brother (Conor Bradbury). Now all three of them are in his apartment, and none of them can know the others are there: presto, farce.
Maripuu is the absolute standout, high-energy and completely unhinged: is she a venture capitalist? is she a con artist? is she a total space cadet? possibly all three? The zest and energy she brings to her role are a sight to behold, and it really does feel like only she could do justice to this demanding part.
But farce is always a group effort, and everyone gets their turn in the spotlight: Romanin as the unfortunate straight man upon whom the entire show turns; Pioro as the agent of chaos, who wins over the audience despite the plot being driven by her character’s selfishness; and Bradbury, fresh from a stint at the Save-a-Soul Mission (which is apparently near Woodstock), playing dumb muscle while keeping the pilot light burning in his character’s brain.
While the actors show well, I think the script needs a little more time in the oven. Much of the first hour of this 90-minute piece felt like exposition, and I don’t think the farce elements are strong enough to offset this long stretch. I was also left contemplating the classic farce formula: essentially, theatrical farce is “clever people doing stupid things for corrupt reasons.” It’s possible that the catalytic actions within the buildup just aren’t salacious enough (by 2019 standards) to carry a plot of this character, which leaves a hole in the formula.
Fringe Farce is no simple matter, though. As a genre experiment (which is how this production is framed), there’s a lot of promise, and this show does tick all the literal farce boxes. The acting’s strong enough to balm over most of the bumps in the road, and once the action finally cranks up, the downhill ride makes for a fun trip.
- Moving On plays at the Theatre Passe Muraille Mainspace. (16 Ryerson 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 (275 Bathurst St.), and — if any remain — from the venue’s box office starting one hour before curtain.
- Content Warning: mature language.
- This venue is wheelchair-accessible. Accessible seating is in the very front row.
- Be aware that Fringe performances always start exactly on time, and that latecomers are never admitted.
- The Toronto Fringe Festival is scent-free: please do not wear perfumes, colognes, or other strongly-scented products.
- Thursday July 4th, 8:30 pm
- Saturday July 6th, 7:00 pm
- Sunday July 7th, 1:15 pm
- Tuesday July 9th, 10:15 pm
- Thursday July 11th, 4:15 pm
- Friday July 12th, 5:15 pm
- Sunday July 14th, 4:00 pm
Photographs of Anastasia Pioro, Conor Bradbury, Lena Maripuu and Casey Romanin by Dahlia Katz.