Trapped in a basement after a global catastrophe, two best friends navigate space and time with the help of music and drugs. This is Life in a Box, a post-apocalyptic bro-mantic comedy presented by Offended Millennial Creations for the Toronto Fringe Festival.
Full disclosure: I’ve never been particularly interested in stoner comedies. I chose this play on whim, mostly because it fit nicely into my schedule. What did I expect from it? Some messy, uneven, sporadically amusing nonsense. That is not, however, what was in store for me.
Life in a Box turned out to be one of the most charming shows I’ve seen in a long time. With little more than some stools and a ukulele, creators/performers Landon Doak and Matthew Finlan have produced a delightful romp about friendship, ingenuity and adventure.
With a plot that involves a broken bong, solar flares and time travel, it’s all very silly, sure, yet the piece is crafted with such enthusiastic sincerity that I couldn’t help but buy in completely. The writing is very clever. The dialogue and songs are polished and intelligent, and the story moves along with grace and efficiency.
There’s even some real thematic substance here. As the world crumbles around our stoner duo, it occurs to them that they may not have lived up to their true potential and so some genuine existential panic fuels their goofy plans.
I even got a little choked-up during a genuinely touching moment towards the end that caught me completely off-guard.
Director Rebecca Ballarin keeps the pace tight and never lets a single moment feel wasted. The energy never drops, it shifts fluidly with the rhythms of the story. And this was a preview performance with a very small attendance! Imagine how dynamic the show will become once they find their stride with audiences.
And I do hope they get some packed houses. If this review achieves anything, I hope it fills seats with eager viewers. Doak and Finlan are so very talented, charismatic and endearing. Their show is great fun, masterfully executed!
Go see Life in a Box. Bring your friends. Treat yourselves to something special.
- Life in a Box plays at the Factory Theatre Studio. (125 Bathurst St.)
- 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: Strobe lights; Smoking; Mature language.
- The Fringe Festival considers this venue to be wheelchair-accessible.
- Be aware that Fringe performances always start exactly on time, and that latecomers are never admitted.
- Thursday July 5th, 7:45 pm
- Saturday July 7th, 11:15 pm
- Sunday July 8th, 10:15 pm
- Tuesday July 10th, 2:45 pm
- Thursday July 12th, 7:15 pm
- Friday July 13th, 12:15 pm
- Sunday July 15th, 6:00 pm
Photo of Landon Doak and Matthew Finlan provided by the company.
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