Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Review: (Toronto) Chasing Margaret Flatwood (Fringe)

Bursting With Talent, Nowhere to Go
by Keely Kwok

Socialite Vivienne Moore has a desperate problem: her arch-nemesis Helen Reisberg hosted the literary soiree of the season and had the audacity not to invite Madame Moore! Can you believe it? The nerve of that woman! Oh, and her husband Gerald has been accused of stealing employee pension money in addition to shredding important company documents. But! Back to more important matters: how to get revenge on that ruinous Reisberg! Vivienne resolves to throw a party of her own and invite her literary idol, Margaret Flatwood.

There’s no denying that Chasing Margaret Flatwood has a cast bursting with talent. Catherine McNally is a fabulous leading lady as Vivienne Moore. She’s strong, confident, and so resembles a younger Angelica Houston I had to do a double take. Vivienne’s partner in crime is her adopted sister Jazmin Latrine (Kimwun Perehinec). Jazmin has a sarcastic jab for every scenario and Perehinec delivers them with hilarious indifference. McNally and Perehinec have great chemistry and feed off one another for maximum ridiculousness. 

On the eve of Vivienne’s party, the guests (or rather, lack of) are treated to a documentary about the guest of honour, Margaret Flatwood. With little segments from fellow author Alice Munrose and reference to Flatwood’s most famous novel, The Foot Butler’s Story, it’s definitely a highlight of the show. Props to Lindsay C Walker for her stunning costumes as well.

The performance takes place in a living room in The Campbell House and director Andrew Lamb has successfully utilized the space to its full potential. With the audience seated in a semicircle around sofas, the actors move fluidly around the space. Scene changes are carried out by Becks the butler, played by playwright Robert Watson. In the later half of the show however, these changes are longer and more frequent. Watson entertains as he remains in character, but the play itself tends to drag. It also has about four potential endings. In regards to the writing, Watson heads straight for the easy laugh. While his cast pulls it off well, it’s nothing we haven’t seen before. Moments of sincerity feel forced Vivienne’s recovery is rather rushed. 

Chasing Margaret Flatwood is ideal if you’re looking for some light satire and don’t mind waiting a long time to get to the punch line. While there are some great performances, it isn’t really my cup of gin. 

July 2 - 13

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