Sunday, July 6, 2014

Review: (Toronto) Group Therapy (Fringe)

A Show with Potential
by Keely Kwok

As a first show for theatre company Giggling Aristophanes, Group Therapy is pretty ambitious. The story follows a group of strangers, all struggling with different afflictions, who determine traditional therapy isn’t working for them. As an experiment, they decide to form a support group of their own. The group then takes turns dragging each other to their location of choice and hosting their own reveal. Oh, and it’s a musical too. 

The acting is not outstanding and many lines are exaggerated with a solid eye roll to show they’re annoyed with one another. An exception to this is Elizabeth Stuart-Morris who plays Charlotte. As the most developed character in the show, Stuart-Morris brings a subtlty that makes her sympathetic and a joy to watch. Elizabeth Rose Morriss as the perky, gambling addict Zoey also has realistic delivery. And man that girl can sing! The other characters are 2D and though their problems are serious, they aren’t really handled that way. Which, in most cases, is fine. After all, humour is a key coping mechanism. The only problem is that the characters stay at surface level. It’s like watching The Breakfast Club but without the emotional talking circle scene near the end that brings it all home. Another issue is that there are just too many characters and extras on stage. Scene changes lag because people keep bumping into one another. 

As for the music, there is potential. Right now the lyrics are too on the nose. But the emotion is there, ready to be felt. Emma Victoria Smith who plays therapist Dr. Schroeder has an angelic voice and does well to represent the traditional approach to finding a 'cure' and 'balance”.  In fact, the entire cast can sing and really come alive during the songs.

Group Therapy has a lot of potential. If funny, sincere, and honest are the targets, they didn’t quite hit the bullseye but did manage to land on an outer circle.

July 2 - 13

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