For my first Toronto Fringe show of 2015 I went to see OverTime a play by Romeo Ciolfi and produced by Newface Entertainment and staged at the Robert Gill Theatre located on the University of Toronto Campus. The show is a four-piece ensemble about truth, lies and how running away from problems (literally and figuratively) may not be the right choice for everyone. The set was sparse with only a desk, a couch and a door that was redressed to make the stage a park. To turn the set into the park the couch cushion was removed to reveal that is just a park bench and there was a large grass carpet with flowers attached to the legs of the furniture. This is one of those times where the less there was to the set the better, as it was confusing as to why there was grass inside a house and simply revealing the park bench was probably more than enough to set the scene.
The play opening with a cold monologue from Linus played by Tufford Kennedy standing off to stage left performing as a hockey coach giving encouraging speeches and shouting out hockey terms like crash the net. It was hard to tell if it was a dream sequence or if it was a flashback. Kennedy had moments of strong intensity but as an actually hockey fan some of the clichés made me lose being in the moment, of which was no fault to the actor. An easy highlight of the show is the performance from Elva Mai Hoover who plays Carla a retired teacher suffering from MS, which some dark secrets to hide as she mentors an up and coming writer. Hoover exudes strength and passion, right from the get go and has quite a few layers to her performance. From having stern teacher-ly moments, to frail woe is me suffering moments, up to scary “Norman Bates’ mother” type of under tones.
An early moment has Carla frustrated at her student Darby, played by Timothy Eckmier, who had just written a play and suffers from OCD. As Darby is about to go out for a run, Carla decides to throw her perfectly aligned pill bottles off the desk causing Darby to have a mini panic attack. Eckmier works best when he has to juggle his disorder and carry on with the scene, as Carla doesn’t ever slow down. During Darby’s eventual run, he meets Jewell, played by Andrea Brown, who clearly has more up her sleeve than just talking about birds and faith blogs. Brown and Eckmier share the plays best chemistry together as all four actors have moments with the other people, but the few scenes together show a lot more give and take from both parties compared to other scenes.
For the first several times we see Linus, he is giving his hockey speeches and unfortunately during those times other actors were facilitating scene changes, which was distracting as an audience member in such a small space. While the performances were solid and serviceable, the script itself seemed to harm the play more than it helped. For a story about playwrights, there was next to no subtly in a story about fear and understanding your past. Without giving too much away, the story features topics such as gun violence, which offers next to no nuance or subtext. There is an odd moment when Darby mentions the only person he has every loved was named Henry and Carla offered an offended gasp while later in the play she accuses the black community as being problematic but unfortunately the play doesn’t delve deeper into the subjects of homophobia or racism, which is a shame as it could have made it more interesting.
Near the end of the play when Darby describes the death of Henry it is the most tender and touching moments of the play and makes the show redeeming for the poor dialogue and bulky melodrama. The direction of the actors and staging of the scenes was really well done and if the script were stronger, the show could have been transformed from good to excellent.
Tickets are $12 in advance, $10 at the door. Tickets can be purchased online, by phone (416-966-1062), from the festival box office down Honest Ed’s Alley (581 Bloor West), or from the venue box office starting one hour before the performance. Venue sales are cash-only.
July 06 at 03:00 PM
July 07 at 01:00 PM
July 08 at 02:00 PM
July 11 at 10:30 PM
Photos provided by the company.