Youth Infringement gives young writers, directors and actors a chance to present their brand new shows to audiences. The first evening opened with The Ever-Present Witness, Lucy and The Anomaly.
The Ever-Present Witness
In Madison Jolliffe’s darkly funny play, the perfect family turns out to be harboring dark secrets, some more extreme than others. The Ever-Present Witness to the cracks in their façade is the fridge, who finds himself disturbed and confused by the actions of everyone in the family. I must say that before the start of this production, I was terrified by the cast list. Nine characters in a 45-minute show can often be a bad sign. However, all the characters here are surprisingly well-developed and get their moment in the spotlight. As a result, the action is fast and the pace never drags, thanks to both the script and Alexandra Isenor’s direction. This definitely feels like a show that has plenty of room to be expanded to twice its length, since the ending leaves a few interesting threads hanging.
However, the gimmick of the fridge being a living person isn’t really necessary to the dramatic build-up. The drama feels rises to a peak and feels like it’s immediately deflated by the only time the fridge speaks up. There are strong performances here, especially from Lisa Johnston as the hyperactive 9th-grader Blair and a short but delightful appearance by Euan Wheaton. Overall, The Ever-Present Witness was my favorite of the evening.
Lucy is a one-woman show about the daughter of death – literally. Lucy’s dad is the Grim Reaper, and she’s got a long lifetime of daddy issues to explore. David Coleman’s script does have an interesting topic and a fascinating central character. However, Lucy feels like it’s not really justified as a one woman show. Julia Bueneman does what she can with the material, but I feel like her words would have more impact if she had someone besides the audience to respond to, or if she interacted with the scenery around her. As it is, the staging is never fully realized.
The stage is covered in piles of books, but these never come into play since Lucy barely moves besides pacing and sitting here and there. The lack of movement coupled with a lot of drawn-out pauses made for a very slow pace. The script also meanders; Lucy talks about her lovers from history, her father’s impact on her life, her immortality and more, but the point she’s trying to make is never quite clear. This has potential, but could do with taking itself less seriously and more active direction.
Inspired by the classic monster movies of the 1950s, The Anomaly features a scientist and his research assistant discovering that there’s more to the meteor they’re studying than meets the eye. Meanwhile, the scientist’s wife is determined to get a hold of her husband’s large research grant with the help of her secret lover and an evil scheme. Ryan Nadon’s script is delightfully silly, with quite a few moments that made me giggle. The Anomaly definitely has the zany energy of a campy monster movie.
It was a little quick to resolve, with the final confrontation being woefully short. Indeed, the play concluded earlier than the 45-minute run time stated in the program. Paul Piekoszewski is a highlight as the goofy, often-oblivious scientist. Katie Volkert gets to chew the scenery as his elegant, wealth-hungry wife. The only real quibble I had with the staging of The Anomaly are some of the costuming choices. This is a play set in the ’50s and everyone is period-appropriate except for the wife’s lover, played by Matthew Godin, who wears a black t-shirt and black jeans. It did take me out of the action a bit. Overall, though, The Anomaly made for an energetic end to the evening.
But that’s just my opinion and I’d like to hear what you think. What was your favorite Youth Infringement show? Let me know in the comments below!
Youth Infringement runs until May 17th at the Arts Court Theatre. For more information, check out our preview article.