Sunday, July 7, 2013

Review: (Toronto) The Collectors (Fringe)

Woman on the Verge
by Zoe Erwin-Longstaff

The Collectors boasts, one of the most compelling blurbs in the Fringe brochure. Dealing with “emotional poverty and debt” the play centers on a woman, Hannah, sequestered in her apartment, accosted by collection agencies, struggling to make art amidst disorder. But the play is not really interested in it’s own conceit. It doesn’t focus on debt, or the nature of debt, or anything to do with debt.  

What The Collectors really captures is an unstable and desperate woman, but the characterization stops there.  We don’t know anything about the art Hannah is purportedly trying to create, she refers only fleetingly to her misgivings about it, and even then only vaguely, “I don’t know what my work is actually worth. I don’t know who the judges are.  I don’t know how to reach them.”

The collectors calling Hannah, are, I imagine, extensions of her own fractured psychology – multiple personalities? Or perhaps schizophrenic projections? They are embodied in flamboyant, grotesque stereotypes, Mr. Virtue, the paternalistic sadist, Mrs. Smith, the alcoholic floozy and Mr. Maggot, the quivering wimp.  Littered with smutty exchanges, Hannah propositions the men, ostensibly to make them uncomfortable enough to forget why they called, or at least to discourage them not to call back.   She just ignores Mrs. Smith, whose familiar overtures she distrusts. 

Towards the end, Hannah’s suspicions are confirmed when all three descend into her apartment to make mischief.  From then on, any semblance of structure is abandoned.  The Collectors is engaged with some really compelling ideas, it’s too bad they weren’t able to put them to better use. 

The Collectors is at the Toronto Fringe

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