Tapeworthy

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

One Love - Human Anonymous - Play Review

Human Anonymous - The Next Stage Theatre Festival (Fringe Toronto) - Factory Theatre - Toronto, ON - **** (our of 5)
Written by Kate Hewlett, Directed by Andrew Hachey

Vance at http://tapeworthy.blogspot.com:

The Next Stage Theatre Festival by the Toronto Fringe Theatre Festival (which jump-started shows like The Drowsy Chaperone, Boygroove and Bash'd) is currently running at the Factory Theatre and showcasing some previous Fringe hits being remounted for this hand-picked festival.

Human Anonymous defies its cute-sounding premise of finding love and connection in our present day (the photo that accompanies the description is almost incorrect) and instead is an intelligent and witty look at breaking free from our normal choices in an effort to truly connect with our own lives. The show is funny without being silly or cliched, and while some of the writing is akin to television, I don't mean that in a bad way, and instead found the play to be smart and deftly poignant and accurate.

The basic story follows Ellen (Michelle Giroux from many seasons of Stratford), a single businesswoman whose best friend is her employee Peter (Philip Graeme), a happily coupled gay guy (whose partner is also named Peter) who likes to meddle in his bosses lovelife. When a young genius enters the fray (Mayko Nguyen), possibilities are abound. Add in Peter's cat-loving sister (writer Kate Hewlett) and a bit of 4th wall breaking moments, and the top-notch cast (which includes Gregory Prest) keeps things to professional-levels.

Mayko Nguyen is wonderful as the young Jenny and her performance is beautifully rendered since she must travel between seemingly young and naive while all-knowing and more clever than her own good. Philip Graeme is hilarious as the gay interloper but plays it without being sitcomy. Michelle Giroux is solid and Hewlett gets some fun on her own material. Prest is adorable and I wish he were in more of the play.

The show is solid enough that a longer run at a small to mid sized theatre or an Off-Broadway type of run (apparently it ran in NY via The Bridge Theatre Company) would be completely warranted and though the play didn't blow me away emotionally as I had hoped (and why it only got 4 stars instead of 5 from me), it was still an entertainingly clever play.

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