By Kathy Morgan
Before attending the “Show Us Yours” Series playing at the Lower Ossington Theatre I was quite hopeful. Having seen a number of exemplary fringe shows, an evening of the best of the fringe circuit seemed to have a lot of potential. I started with Ten Foot Pole Productions’ Giant Invisible Robot.
Unfortunately, I was a little disappointed.
Giant Invisible Robot, written and performed by Jayson McDonald, started strong with McDonald portraying the protagonist, Russel Noir, as a little boy with his giant invisible robot with destructive and homicidal tendencies.
Over the course of the show, McDonald portrayed 8 or 9 characters, with varying degrees of success. Some, like the superhero, Captain Victory, and his mad scientist were mostly entertaining, but seemed a little self-indulgent. As Mark put it, some of the scenes just “dragged on far too long.”
Some characters, like his American general, fell totally flat. But there were moments, such as the monologue by the giant invisible robot himself and Russel’s therapy session that felt just magical.
But as most of these moments happened most of the way through the play, it just felt like the show didn’t find its soul until we’d been sitting there for 45 minutes of the 55 minute show.
Henry, my show-partner for this piece, also noted that, “Omitting a couple of the scenes and characters would have tightened the pace, as well as losing the dead weight of the later Scientists speeches and the irritating military commander who added nothing to the story. It seemed that the direction was lax, and a little streamlining could have pushed this to a professional level. The ending saves this play, reinvigorating the flagging pace and storyline. The last ten minutes mature it to a play worth seeing.”
I really wanted to like this show; McDonald is charming and witty and yet the performance had a really difficult time opening up to the audience and showing its heart. But part of the problem could very well have been the audience. Having been onstage in similar circumstances, I know how difficult it is to perform when there are only a handful more people in the audience than there are onstage.
For a one-man show, it’s even more difficult. Without that energy coming back at you, it can be exhausting to be up there, and make it hard to come up with the emotional energy it takes to be vulnerable in front of your audience, which is what the first three-quarters of the show was really missing.
Technically, I really appreciated the simplicity and clarity of the show. The set was very simple, just a plain wooden chair used efficiently, but not excessively, and the lighting was basic but expressive. These elements let the text speak for itself, and that’s something I really do appreciate.
As a whole, I enjoyed this show, but it didn’t blow me away.
-The “Show Us Yours” Series runs from May 5-17, featuring Balls (May 5-17), Giant Invisible Robot (May 5-10), and The Sputniks (May 12-17) at the Lower Ossington Theatre (100A Ossington Ave.)
-Tickets are $19 for any one show, $29 for Balls and either of the other shows, or $38 for a pass to all three shows.
-Tickets are available at the door, by phone (416 915 6747), online or at TOTix in Yonge-Dundas Square. hipTIX have been made available to all shows through TOTix.
-For further information visit www.tenfootpole.ca