A poor script wastes the talents of Know
past season and had the biggest turnout for the Fringe Festival in its history back in May – June. There are some fun surrealistic lighting (Andrew Hungerford) and sound (Doug Borntrager) elements in the thirty minute second act of Toil and Trouble. Now comes the bad news: Toil and Trouble by Lauren Gunderson is the type of script that might read well, but doesn’t play well and probably should not be produced.
It would seem like a good idea to present a new comedy that speaks of the downward mobility of the Millennium Generation, refers to film noir in a satirical way, and alludes to Macbeth before surrealistically transposing some of those story elements to the main conflict and into the plot. ‘Seem’ is the operative word. There are
writers that might be able to handle these disparate elements, but Gunderson isn’t one of them. This is the type of script that started when a professor during her MFA program said “write a modern take off on a Shakespeare tragedy and make it funny.” It’s a good writing prompt, but it requires rewriting and really looking at whether it can make it on its feet. At times, it seems to feel like a revue sketch that was stretched beyond its breaking point of about twenty-five minutes. None of those disparate elements works because Gunderson doesn’t commit to exploring any of them with any depth, wit, or originality.
|Playwright Lauren Gunderson|
|Breona Conrad and Chris Wesselman*|
|"MattBeth" Joshua Murphy and Conrad*|
I guess this is supposed to be a satire about this generation’s entitlement and laziness, but then why put in a half-hearted coda about how it was all a misunderstanding and the three should be friends again? Eric Vosmeier, who’s directed with flair and sensitivity in the past, does what he can here. I wish he could just have demanded an overhaul by the playwright or commissioned an MFA candidate from CCM to come up with a ninety minute comedy; I can’t imagine it would have been weaker than this.
*Photo by Alexandra Kesman
Toil and Trouble runs through August 24, 2013.