A couple meet for the first time after chatting online, with some lightly Shakespeare-inspired shenanigans along the way.
Should you see it?
Connor and Ashley met thanks to an accidental email. Now, they’re meeting for the first time in real life, but here’s the twist; they both test each other by sending in older friends to pretend to be them.
I had trouble suspending my disbelief enough to believe the premise. How do you email with someone for some time and not learn enough to even guess their age? Connor and Ashley sit down to coffee and talk at length about their lives without realizing they’re talking to the person they’ve been emailing, making them seem a little dim.
It doesn’t help that there is no chemistry between Madeleine Hall and David Rowan. Their scenes feel like an awkward first date, one that definitely won’t be followed by a second. Ellen Manchee and Bruce Spinney as the friends impersonating Connor and Ashley do a much better job of playing off each other.
While Owen Walker’s script is slightly witty, it doesn’t always land. I really do like the concept of revamping the classic Shakespeare switcheroo comedy, but By Any Other Name’s only real connection to the Bard is the title and the plot skeleton. Most of the dialogue is incredibly mundane. Here’s the truth about first dates; the stuff you talk about is only really interesting to the people directly involved. Most of By Any Other Name involves sitting through not one, but two first dates.
What I find especially disappointing is that By Any Other Name has potential. Since it features both younger and older characters, it could stand to make more of a comment about youth versus experience. By Any Other Name would also have been more fun if it appropriated more elements from Shakespeare’s comedies to justify the link.
What did you think of By Any Other Name? Did you like the dialogue? What did you think of the surprise ending? Join the discussion in the comments below!
For more information about By Any Other Name, including show times and how to buy advance tickets, check out the show page on ottawafringe.com: http://ottawafringe.com/tickets/by-any-other-name/