Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Review: (Toronto) It's Always You (Fringe)

Sketch comedy masquerades as musical
by Joel Fishbane

Different realities play themselves out in It’s Always You, a show that is being mistakenly advertised as a musical. Yes, there are songs but they are slight and do little to advance story or theme; unfortunately, much of the text has the same problem. It’s Always You is sketch comedy masquerading as a complete play and the results are decidedly mixed.

The idea is simple enough: once upon a time, Elaine (Sheila McCarthy), Bill (Dan Redican) and Ted (Shawn Thompson) were all friends. Then something sent them spiralling in different directions. What if we could see the result of these diverging roads?

The trouble is that we only glimpse three minutes in each new reality, which is hardly enough time to become invested in any of the characters or whatever problems they may have. The central question – what happened to Elaine, Bill and Ted that divided them years before – feels to be of merely academic interest and is thrown in too late in the day for it to matter.

As the stagehand who breaks the fourth wall, Madeleine Redican is charming even as she performs the unenviable job of providing awkward exposition. The remainder of the cast – a trio of some of Canada’s finest comic actors – each have a moment to show their mettle, making one wish they had developed the material more so the script matches the strength of those performing it.

It's Always You is at the Toronto Fringe

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