Deadbeat Productions presents A Plague Upon the Doctor’s House, playing at Factory Theatre as part of the Toronto Fringe Festival. The play takes place in 18th century England in the house of a plague doctor. This show deals with some heavy subject matter including death, murder, and oh yeah, the plague, but it takes itself anything but seriously.
I was so excited to see this show, because I’m a huge fan of British-style farces and this looked like just the ticket. James D. Rose (Playwright/Director), presents a well-crafted script with moments that are both hilarious and surprisingly sweet. I would say it has a certain Princess Bride-esque charm, enjoyable awkward jokes and all.
As most comedies go, this play isn’t supposed to make you think about any deep, pressing issues. It’s a comedy for comedy’s sake. James even says in the program saying that he got the idea for this show from overhearing a funny story from someone at work. With that being said, these actors, with the help of James’ directing, definitely bring the play to the play.
Each and every member of the cast brought a great comedic energy to their roles. As an ensemble, I thought this group of actors worked very well together and the play had a good pace, moving swiftly with intention. I want to shout out Catherine Teichman (Sister Anne) who had lots of fun and comedic moments as a mid 18th century British nun who perhaps got into the wrong medicine cabinet…And Hannah Ehman (Amy) who gave a passionate performance as the doctor’s wife.
Although the play is well written and was expertly performed, there was one thing I’d say that didn’t jibe particularly well with me. I felt as though the jokes themselves could have used some time to breathe. Because the literal words are said so quickly, sometimes I would miss a punchline or a line that would make up a sequence that would lead to a joke etc. Instead of being punched in the gut with a joke, sometimes I’d be straining to hear exactly what was being said.
However, despite some unclear moments, I thought the writing was clever, the story connected in all the right ways and like in true farce fashion, everything came to a very hilarious and satisfying ending. I’d like to see where this play ends up in further development!
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