Ouvrez la Porte, Fermez la Bouche is a touching melody on the struggles of new beginnings and the slow dance of striking it out on your own, now playing at the Toronto Fringe Festival.
Adapted from a play by Nevena Martinovic and produced by FMV Theatre Co, the show tells the story of Will, a young man who relocates to a new city by himself, leaving his partner, his friends, and his family behind. While he yearns for the future he’s dreaming of, when his partner will move to be with him, he deals with unpacking the uncertainty that change, and starting over, bring.
Freshly moved into his new apartment, Will is keen to make friends in his new city. He throws a housewarming party and invites his entire building, but is heartbroken when only a single soul shows up: Leslie. Enter Leslie, a neighbour who is just as eager to make a new friend, but has unknowingly put herself in Will’s bad books. The story then centers around their heated exchanges, as Leslie tries to get Will to open his door (ouvrez la porte), while Will tries to get her to stop talking (fermez la bouche).
Will is beautifully played by Ben Wardle. He’s funny, he’s sentimental, he’s a little bit neurotic. Wardle wonderfully expresses the kaleidoscope of emotions (doubt, loneliness, fear) that surface when trying to build a new, or different, life. His inner monologues felt genuine and deeply human. Wardle was all heart on stage.
The other star of the show, Leslie, was craftily played by Rachel Hart. Hart gave a relentless performance, akin to a child poking a bear, winning me over with her enduring optimism and childlike wonder. She was quick-witted, spirited and swept across the stage. While Will brooded, Leslie giggled.
While the set design was kept relatively simple, the use of a door center stage, the focal point of the show, was expertly executed. Hats off to directors Kevin Vidal and Natalie Metcalfe, who got this just right, ensuring it didn’t feel gimmicky or over used.
Ouvrez la Porte, Fermez la Bouche is a heartfelt meditation on finding the courage to start over, and a recommended watch for all.
- Ouvrez la Porte, Fermez la Bouche plays at the Helen Gardiner Phelan Playhouse. (79 St. George 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 (275 Bathurst St.), and — if any remain — from the venue’s box office starting one hour before curtain.
- Content Warnings: mature language; sexual content.
- This venue is wheelchair-accessible.
- 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, 6:15 pm
- Saturday July 6th, 3:00 pm
- Sunday July 7th, 6:30 pm
- Tuesday July 9th, 8:00 pm
- Thursday July 11th, 10:15 pm
- Friday July 12th, 8:45 pm
- Sunday July 14th, 12:00 pm
Photo of Rachel Hart and Ben Wardle by Jenna LeBlanc, graphic design by Marshall Lorenzo