FRINGE FOUR: Perfect Couples, 4.48 Psychosis, The Resurrectionists, Weaksauce

Veronica Appia and Melissa Domingos

Perfect Couples

all photos: Toronto Fringe 

all photos: Toronto Fringe 

Perfect Couples is a millennial-minded piece centred on the concept of what love means in a society and generation straying further and further away from commitment and monogamy.

Written by emerging playwright Mitchell Janiak and produced by Pencil Kit Productions, the show straddles two distinct storylines: one that follows four different romantic relationships – all falling apart in their own ways – and another that deals with the ever-present stigma surrounding mental illness. While both intertwining plots are undoubtedly topical, especially in the world of Generation Y, it often felt like Perfect Couples was trying to be too many things at once.

Rather than listening to copious amounts of bickering and whining, a stronger focus on our protagonist’s mental illness and the way it changes the dynamic of an intimate relationship, as well as multiple friendships, is what would be intriguing to see a more in-depth exploration of.

4.48 Psychosis

4.48 Psychosis was British playwright Sarah Kane’s final work before she took her life in February 1999. The play lays bare the darkest corners of her mind and her struggles coping with clinical depression.

Performer Elizabeth Whitbread is absolutely a force to be reckoned with, tapping into this dark, deeply layered and complex role.

While the piece is quite clearly a depiction of Kane’s own specific experience dealing with mental illness, trying to seek help, and ultimately failing, the Toronto Fringe rendition (directed by Kendra Jones) pushes past the surface of the script to transcend Kane’s words. The result? A moving and actionable piece on learning to properly address and communicate about mental illness, and the repercussions of stigmatization and a lack of necessary aid. 

The Resurrectionists

Presented by House of Rebels Theatre, The Resurrectionists follows two young doctors who are caught up in the challenges of starting a grave-robbing business in 19th century Ontario. It is a dark farce that explores the comedy of miscommunication with unexpected twists and turns.

The premise is undoubtedly hilarious and Ross Hammond’s script is promising in its comedic flair. The cast also has great comedic timing, specifically Anthony Di Feo who strongly performs the clueless James.

However, there is something lacking. Perhaps it is the venue choice (the Randolph Theatre is huge for such a small set) or the stagnant staging that adds to the already slow pace; or just the fact that, after 60 minutes, the production and its characters fail to remain memorable for me.

Despite this, The Resurrectionists is a fun and lighthearted show with a great ending moment that provides substance for Hammond’s character to understand the difference between a corpse and an identifiable dead body.

Weaksauce

Watching Weaksauce has taught me one thing: I can listen to Sam Mullins talk for days. The show is 75 minutes long, but who's counting. Mullins has you locked in a storytelling trance.

How could the most basic of tales about uncomfortable pubescent encounters and falling in love be so riveting? Well, because Mullins has a way with words and his performance is timed to comedic perfection. He hits you with the punch lines and one-liners at just the right moments, and his content is so refreshing and honest that it’s easy to see your awkward teenage self bumbling around in each of his stories. This is a brand of comedy that can be appreciated by a variety of tastes and ages. It’s just, quite frankly, a ton of fun. 

For more information on these shows and more, visit fringetoronto.com