Above and Beyond produced by JackieTol Productions playing at the Toronto Fringe Festival is a show strong on sympathetic experiences but weak on narrative.
As someone who has spent more time than I’d like working in sales, both face to face and call centres I felt myself drawn to JackieTol Productions’ Above and Beyond.
Set in a fictional travel company specializing in educational tours for schools, the show focuses on two young women, Jamie and Nicole as they deal with the trials and tribulations of meeting sales goals and the nightmare of cold calls, not to mention navigating the various relationships with their co-workers.
One thing that needs to be stated right off the get go, writer Jaclyn Toledano either has firsthand experience in the sales industry or has done her research; I spent a great deal of the show groaning in sympathetic pain at various moments throughout the performance. From metric-obsessed managers to annoyingly smug coworkers and even the sheer bliss that comes from stealing a few minutes hiding in the washroom and not dealing with listening to ringtones and answering machines I really connected with the events happening on stage.
Unfortunately, while the slice of life depiction was engaging, it didn’t really feel like there was an actual story occurring. The play felt more like a series of individual events without much tying them together beyond characters and the overall theme of “working in the sales industry.”
I couldn’t help but wonder if that was the point, that the sense of emotional emptiness I felt at the end was meant to recreate the numbing experience of working in the exhausting world of sales, but I can’t help but feel that paying money to be reminded how much working in a call center is miserable doesn’t really feel worth it.
- Above & Beyond plays at the Robert Gill Theatre. (214 College 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; strobe lights.
- This venue is wheelchair-accessible through usage of a painfully slow elevator. We recommend making sure you arrive a few minutes early.
- 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, 6:45 pm
- Saturday July 6th, 10:15 pm
- Sunday July 7th, 12:30 pm
- Tuesday July 9th, 8:30 pm
- Thursday July 11th, 1:00 pm
- Friday July 12th, 6:15 pm
- Saturday July 13th, 4:00 pm
Photo of Felix Beauchamp, Tatyana Mitchell, Rabiya Mansoor, Andrea Irwin, Natasha Ramondino, and Francis Masaba by Angela Sun