Settle This Thing (playing at the 2018 Toronto Fringe Festival) proposes a revolution in relationship therapy. Here’s the model: marriage is a trap, affection is just chemicals, everything’s about sex (until the sex disappears), and arguing just doesn’t work.
But if arguing doesn’t work, we need a new tiebreaker: a way to Settle This Thing. So on your way in the door, you’ll be presented with a voting paddle, and the show repeatedly asks you to pass judgement. Who won the argument? Who’s in the right? And who has to apologise?
The voting gimmick is such tremendous fun that the audience can’t help but get engaged. Every time we reached for our paddles, giggles and staring matches broke out (you’re voting for her?!), and I certainly overheard people picking apart the scenarios on the walk out the door. On opening night, the couple nearly tied on every question, which nicely illustrates the complexity of finding a balance in a relationship.
There are a few elements of this show which don’t work. I thought the opening and the ending were particularly wobbly, and–frankly–performers Tamara Bick and Drew Antzis seemed like such a well-matched set that I had a hard time suspending my disbelief and seeing them as an exasperated couple trapped in a marriage so deeply troubled that they need strangers to intervene.
But damn if it isn’t fun all the same, especially when Bick and Antzis get off-script. A bonus round in the final minutes, where they take on relationship questions from the audience, is another highlight, as is the eagerness with which they take shout-outs and catcalls. If you look past the bumps, Settle This Thing is a lovely little cream puff of a show, equally ideal for first dates, newlyweds, exhausted parents, old pairs of shoes, and recent divorcees.
- Settle This Thing plays at the Tarragon Theatre Extraspace. (30 Bridgman Ave.)
- Tickets are $13, including a $2 service charge. The festival also offers a range of money-saving passes and discounts for serious Fringers.
- Tickets can be purchased online, by telephone (416-966-1062), from the Festival Box Office at Scadding Court (707 Dundas St. W.), and — if any remain — from the venue’s box office starting one hour before curtain.
- Content Warnings: Mature language; Audience participation; Unsuitable for minors.
- This venue is barrier-free. Patrons who use wheelchairs or who cannot climb stairs are seated in the front row.
- Be aware that Fringe performances always start exactly on time, and that latecomers are never admitted.
- Friday July 6th, 8:30 pm
- Sunday July 8th, 4:45 pm
- Tuesday July 10th, 1:00 pm
- Wednesday July 11th, 9:30 pm
- Thursday July 12th, 2:30 pm
- Friday July 13th, 3:45 pm
- Saturday July 14th, 11:30 pm