The multiverse, a set of infinite parallel universes that comprise the entirety of everything that can possibly exist and the idea that seemingly minor decisions can have hugely divergent effects has been explored extensively in science fiction but It’s Always You, playing as part of the Toronto Fringe Festival, toys with the idea in a musical romantic comedy.
The show centers on three middle-aged characters; the remarkably average Bill (Dan Redican), the ambitious but loyal Elaine (Sheila McCarthy) and the womanizing executive Ted (Shawn Thompson) and explores the complex love triangle that has existed between the three of them since their high school years.
Scene after scene takes place on the same day (Bill’s birthday, which he doesn’t like to celebrate) at 4:03PM as we flip through all the permutations, combinations and outcomes of the threesome’s lives; Bill marries Elaine, Ted marries Elaine, none of them get married to each other, etc.
While the concept is interesting the piece is very much still a work in progress and I struggled to engage with it. I found the pacing slow and thought the show dragged in several spots. The show seemed repetitive, the tone was often oddly depressing and several scenes could be cut and and it would significantly tighten the pacing.
I also don’t think the show works particularly well as a musical. The action comes to a dead halt and the characters sing songs that don’t drive the plot forward, aren’t particularly helpful for character development and seem to exist simply for their own sake. The songs aren’t bad, they’re cutesy, charming ditties, they just didn’t work for me in this context.
The device of having a fourth actor (Madeleine Redican) break the fourth wall to offer sarcastic commentary was chunkily executed and drew attention to the show’s many shortcomings which, while funny, also ended up feeling very awkward.
All said, there are some decent performances, some of the songs are cute and if you find the characters relatable you might connect with it more than I did.
- It’s Always You: A Musical plays at the Helen Gardiner Phelan Playhouse, Venue 8 (79A St. George St.)
- Show times: July 03 10:00 PM, July 05 03:00 PM, July 07 05:00 PM, July 08 04:30 PM, July 09 08:15 PM, July 11 02:00 PM, July 12 07:00 PM
- All individual Fringe tickets are $10 at the door (cash only). Tickets are available online at www.fringetoronto.com, by phone at 416-966-1062, in person at the Fringe Club, 581 Bloor St. W, July 3rd-14th, noon – 10pm (Advance tickets are $11 – $9+$2 service charge)
- Value packs are available if you plan to see at least 5 shows