Fringe Review: A twisted take on the world: “Wolves”

REVIEW FROM OUR SPECIAL COVERAGE OF THE 2017 MONTREAL FRINGE FESTIVAL

(Image courtesy of Acts to Grind Theatre)

Beware. Out here in the Fringe, there are Wolves.

Billed as a “Psycho-thriller melodramedy”, Acts to Grind Theatre presents Wolves. Steve Yockey penned the script, while Davyn Ryall directed and designed the show.

I’m still not sure what a psycho-thriller melodramedy is.

Ben (Bryan Libero) and Jack (Petro Chinois) are two young ex-amorous men living in a small apartment in the big city. After their breakup, Ben lets Jack stay at his place (once, it was their place). Of course, this is never a good idea. When Jack brings home a one night stand, a Wolf (Dov Fridman), everything goes sideways. Victoria Barkoff rounds the cast as the omnipresent narrator. What ensues is some crazy weird stuff that I will not spoil.

MainLine being the venue brings strengths and weaknesses to every show. It’s a large space with limited lighting. The set was rather endearing, with “caution tape” marking off the area of the flat, as well as the rooms inside of it. A great idea when used well – and it was, strengthening the suspension of disbelief from the audience when actors move room-to-room in a space with no walls. Rooms could be lit independently, using the venue’s limited lighting extensively. This aspect of the show was fantastic.

My first impression was that Wolves used the MainLine space in clever ways.

I do, however, question some directorial choices made. Suspension of disbelief is broken with inconsistent use of the “walls”. Though not often, I did notice a couple of moments where the narrator could see through the “walls”, yet would only walk through the established doorways. Rules were created, but not always followed, and this “took me out” of the show. Also, I was sitting on the stage-right side (as MainLine has 3-sided seating), and realised a couple of things: the show seemed to be blocked well for a front-facing audience, but not for us on the sides. Much of the action seemed to be specifically cheated for for those sitting head on, and there was only a little generosity for those on the sides. The end of the show reached a climax, but my view of the entire event was obstructed by a liquor cabinet set piece. Most of the action happened stage-right, and with the stage nearly thirty feet wide, I’m sure those sitting stage-left felt left out.

There was great acting here. For instance, Libero had amazing monologues. Very genuine moments, however some gimmicky ones as well. From an acting standpoint, “stand and deliver” was thrown out, however not from a place of movement-based abstract expressivity, but rather possible over-direction. It was admirable to see such a well polished piece at the Fringe, though. For an opening night, it seemed there were no hiccups whatsoever.

I do feel many of the narrator’s monologues were not necessary and halted momentum. For instance, a clunky prologue, in which she started off in the house, unlit, and delivering superfluous exposition to establish a tone that left a taste off the top of “telling” rather than “doing” or “showing”.

Overall I “guilty pleasure” enjoyed Wolves. It is definitely a fun show. There is some great subtext on hookup culture, the dangers of modern dating and its repercussions.

Though I have my gripes, check out Wolves if you want to see a very odd, very twisted dark comedy, and it is Fringe, so why wouldn’t you?

Review by Montreal Theatre Hub Fringe Contributor Rahul Gandhi


Acts to Grind Theatre presents “Wolves”

When: June 11 – 18, 2017
Where: Théâtre MainLine Theatre, 3997 Saint-Laurent
Admission: $10
Duration: 80 minutes
Tickets: www.montrealfringe.ca | 514.849.FEST (3378)


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Rahul Gandhi

2017 Fringe Reviewer at Montreal Theatre Hub
Rahul Gandhi is an independent artist, as well as a BFA student. Recent credits include Louise in Hudson Village Theatre's "Private lives", and Jeremy in Persephone's "Jerome of Sandy Cove". As co-founder/artistic director of Tantalus, he is hot off his first fully independent production: "Adoration", which will be remounted at this years Fringe. As an actor/director/producer, he is thrilled to "go Fringing", and to be working with Montreal Theatre Hub watching, offering insight and reviewing some of the wonderful theatrical experiences Montreal has to offer. He will stay hydrated this festival on a balanced diet St-Ambroise Apricot and/or Perrier.
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