At the end of the two-hander Madeleine Says Sorry (Prairie Fire, Please), playing at the Toronto Fringe Festival, Madeleine Brown, the playwright and one of the actors, said to the audience, “If you liked it or didn’t like it, tweet about it. That’s all that matters.”
Oh that I could just tweet 140 characters, go ahead and write my next review, and go to bed, but my editor expects an actual review.
Madeleine is a failed actor who loses a part to a wiener dog. She kidnaps the dog and then tries to drown it. She’s now under house arrest, and in order finish her sentence she has to undergo apology rehab.
The play is set in the only apology clinic in the world, run by Tony (played by Anthony Perpuse), who has invented a machine that can gauge the sincerity of an apology. He’s supposed to coach his clients so they can make heartfelt apologies, but he’s more interested in quick results, so he ends up writing the apologies and having his clients read them.
It’s an interesting idea for a play. Reading the blurb in the Fringe program, the play is described as a “rapid-fire dark comedy that examines who we choose to feel sorry for, and how we seldom really mean it,” and reading the press release, I get the sense that this is supposed to be a learning opportunity.
But for me, there were too many things going on that didn’t add to character development or advance the plot. The play felt overly busy and unfocused.
There are some interesting ideas in the piece, but they get buried, there are so many of them. It’s hard to tell if it’s dark comedy, satire, or a morality play. Everything is on the surface: there’s no room, or time, for depth.
I couldn’t connect with the characters. Neither of them were particularly likeable, although Tony’s vulnerability redeemed him a bit. They talked at each other and didn’t really listen, something that’s just as annoying on stage as it is in real life.
Overall, really wasn’t my kind of play. Madeleine is the main character, and she’s the one holding forth on the way things should be. My problem with the character was that she had absolutely no empathy — which was addressed in the play — and no self awareness. There was nothing about her that I found appealing.
In fairness, though, most of the audience seemed to enjoy the play, so it might work for you.
- Madeleine Says Sorry plays at the Theatre Passe Muraille Backspace. (16 Ryerson Ave.)
- Tickets are $12. The festival also offers a range of money-saving passes for serious Fringers.
- Tickets can be purchased online, by telephone (416-966-1062), from the Fringe Club at Scadding Court, and — if any remain — from the venue’s box office starting one hour before curtain.
- Be aware that Fringe performances always start exactly on time, and that latecomers are never admitted.
- Content Warning: Mature Language.
- This venue is wheelchair-accessible, with some tight cornering. Accessible seating is in the front row.
- Thursday July 6th, 06:00 pm
- Saturday July 8th, 01:30 pm
- Monday July 10th, 07:30 pm
- Wednesday July 12th, 01:15 pm
- Thursday July 13th, 04:30 pm
- Friday July 14th, 10:30 pm
- Saturday July 15th, 06:15 pm
- Sunday July 16th, 12:30 pm
Photo of Anthony Perpuse and Madeleine Brown provided by the company