Eternal Friendship with a Spotless Smile – 2010 Toronto Fringe Review

By Mira Saraf

I will never for the life of me remember the correct name for this play (because of the Hollywood Movie). That’s probably intentional, but whatever the situation may be, I called it Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Smile, Eternal Friendship of the Spotless Mind and all variations in between before I actually got it right.

The psychiatric ward based comedy is about two patients who are paired together for treatment purposes (one is violent, the other passive) and who both fall for their new nurse after the old ones dies under mysterious circumstances. There is a peppering of things in between to allow us to learn about the backgrounds of these two individuals.

Eternal Friendship with a Spotless Smile was quite engaging and entertaining. Although it was hard to tell who the violent patient was and who the passive one was, their interaction with each other and with the over-eager nurse was comic beyond belief.

Matt (Matt McCready) is quiet and somber while Jesse (Jesse Ryder Hughes) is boisterous, social and full of burning questions about extremely arbitrary subjects, mostly the social and cultural significance of things that do not enter the thoughts of everyday people.

The set was simple, composed of a hospital bed and a bench, and the costumes similarly simple. However with such few resources they were able to communicate a great deal (portray eight characters and tell the audience a variety of back stories).

The only thing that may have taken away from this performance was sometimes things were slightly understated, to the point that it was a little unclear. I’m pretty sure I was supposed to pick up something about all the talk about how the old nurse died, but I got a little bit of an incomplete picture.

It may have also been because it was my eighth fringe show in four days or that I was exhausted (or both). I don’t believe in overstating things, but there were a few things that were perhaps a little too shrouded in mystery. I can understand how this would be a challenge – the situation as they present it is too ridiculous to have a normal real-life ending, but any completely clarified ending may have ruined the rest of the piece.

I’m trying not to give too much plot detail away here, so I’ll leave it that. But this was a highly energetic and enjoyable performance and I would absolutely recommend it.

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