Waiting in Line, presented by Honest Arts Production Company, as part of the Toronto Fringe Festival, is a show consisting of various vignettes that explore the effects of the welfare system in Ireland. The piece is enhanced using intricate projected backdrops on simple white walls. While all aspects of this show, from the subject matter to the technology to the characters themselves, are intriguing, I felt the show lacked consistency in how it linked these elements together.
Three actors, Pius McGrath, Johanna O’Brien, and Eva O’Connor, played an array of characters throughout the piece. Each actor had roles that brought out their strengths and depth, but also roles that seemed to float on the surface, leaving half the characters feeling flat while half were moving. McGrath was the stand out of the cast, and definitely the most consistent, with almost all of his roles being convincing and committed. His characters were also so distinct as to make me unsure right up until curtain call that there was only one actor playing them all.
The show starts off a bit shaky with the first of the sparse dance numbers throughout the piece. The dances that occasionally interrupted the narrative weren’t uninteresting, especially when enhanced by gorgeous silhouettes or more abstract patterns projected on the set. However, I didn’t really understand how they tied into the rest of the show. This wasn’t helped by the fact that they were few and far between, making them feel even more out of place.
The show didn’t hit its stride until McGrath switched to his second character, a soft-spoken and desperate husband who’s been keeping the loss of his job from his pregnant wife. This heartbreaking sequence of scenes that follow this character’s shame and frustration rang with honesty and were by far the highlight of the show.
The actors all did a good job of differentiating their characters, switching completely almost every scene. They often switched their accents to accommodate these changes, which, while being helpful in keeping track of who was who, meant that there were some inconstancies with the skill level of different accents. Especially with the more brassy and assertive characters, the accents could get muddled and I occasionally missed what they were saying. I love a good Irish accent though, so when they were done well in the show I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Waiting in Line is a show that clearly had relevant and engaging things to say, but they were often buried under inconsistencies and the confusion caused by all the elements layered into the show. I would love to see how the show would look stripped back, because I believe there would be something interesting and challenging to discover underneath.
- Waiting in Line is playing until July 12at the Factory Theatre Mainspace. (125 Bathurst Street)
- Tickets are $12 in advance, $10 at the door. The festival also offers a range of money-saving passes for serious Fringers.
- Tickets can be purchased online, by phone (416-966-1062), from the festival box office down Honest Ed’s Alley (581 Bloor West), or from the venue box office starting one hour before the performance. Venue sales are cash-only.
- Be advised that Fringe performances always start exactly on time, and latecomers are never admitted. Set your watch to CBC time, and arrive a few minutes early to avoid disappointment.
July 05 at 07:00 PM
July 06 at 05:00 PM
July 08 at 11:00 PM
July 09 at 11:00 PM
July 10 at 02:15 PM
July 12 at 05:15 PM
Photo provided by Company