The first staging of Plays in Weird Places, presented by the King’s Infringement Festival, played to a sold-out audience last week.
The Nov. 16 event was a forerunner to the actual week-long festival, which will take place in early February. Like Infringement, Plays in Weird Places, which staged very short plays in unconventional places all over campus, focused on the playwriting talents of King’s students.
The show had six groups touring through seven plays throughout the evening, each group seeing the plays in a different order. Though things got confused or crowded a few times, the shows and tours ran smoothly overall.
The first play on the event’s roster was Lawless by Cassandra Thorjornsen, staged in the Manning Room. This play was the most like a regular play, seating and arrangement-wise, though it did provide a more intimate feeling than a theatre would. The decor and atmosphere of the space lent itself well to the Old West theme of the play, in which two sisters collaborate to bring law back to a town that is overrun with gangs and literally lawless. Lawless seemed too short for the story Thorjornsen was trying to tell and could benefit from further fleshing out in a longer script. Exits and entrances provided by the chosen space (into and out of the Alex Hall kitchen) were used to the fullest advantage.
Sexiled, by Siobhan Fleury, told the story of two young women sexiled on a FYP Sunday, trying to get through the night without snacks or Internet. Fleury chose a realist setting, staging the play in the Alex Hall second floor common room, where many a sexiled student has waited in the past. The play had strong comedic performances all round, culminating in a short musical number on the misery of sexile.
The men’s bathroom in the basement of the New Academic Building (NAB) was home to John Cavan’s Romeo and Juliet V2. The reinvention featured an all-male cast and a lot of improv. The show was very funny, if a bit risqué at times, and used a good deal of physical comedy. Cavan took great advantage of the stage the two stalls provided, having the actors switch from one to the other and using the levels in the space to achieve a great balcony scene. However, some of this was lost because of the cramped space; action that took place wholly within the stalls was lost to some audience members (almost half in my group’s case).
Jon Bolduc’s Dirty Laundry, staged in the Cochran Bay laundry room, promised “two strangers doing laundry … and the consequences that could stem from introducing themselves,” but what was delivered will be familiar to last year’s Infringement audience. The files of one Mancat have been reopened, and we’ve finally seen one of the cats. The rest is confidential, but we’ve been promised more information at the full festival in February.
The stairway in the A&A lobby was home to Pearl Chan’s Lifespan for Four. The show explored arguments between what appeared to be two couples. Seated in a line on the landing, they spoke out of turn, overlapping each other and rarely looking at their conversation partner. Thedisconnect between the staging and script worked in this case, and the timing of all four actors was impeccable.
Crammed into the NAB elevator, audiences got to eavesdrop on a conversation between friends in a coffee shop on ways time moves differently for everyone. Focusing on the time spent in a city for university, Steamroller by Ben Harrison was pertinent to the setting and audience. He took advantage of the multiple doors in the elevator for other actors to enter and exit throughout the play and the performances given were admirable considering the proximity of the audience. The choice to stage a play about the passage of time in a full, hot elevator was thematic beyond simply being part of an event called Plays in Weird Places.
Clearing Out was a collaboration between writer Emma Morris and director Courtney Zwicker with successful results. The meta play explored the motivation behind keeping seemingly insignificant or valueless possessions. Each story used the three actors to represent other people or objects allowing for an uncluttered and smooth performance in the North Pole Bay common room. Simple lighting, effective staging and solid performances breathed life into a powerful play about the sentimental value infused into objects.
[box type=”info”]Disclosure: Ben Harrison, our co-editor-in-chief, while having no influence over this review, did write and direct Steamroller. Online editor Philippa Wolff worked on Sexiled.[/box]