An Orchid And Other Such Lilies And Lies (playing at this year’s Toronto Fringe Festival) is an interesting, “existential” style play that follows two old friends on their quest to end their lives in the middle of the desert. It’s a study on grief and how one’s perspective on life can change when faced with the enigma of death.
The stage in The Factory Theatre Studio Space is set up with a driver’s seat (pulled right out of a car), a folding chair and a children’s sandbox. It’s a little “ad hoc” but it suits the modest, unassuming feel of the show just fine.
The lights go down and the two 83-year-old buds take their seats in the car. One (David Woroner) is focused at the invisible steering wheel and the other (Daniel Halpern) is snoring in the passenger seat with his head back and mouth wide open. They’re popping pills, eating weed brownies and doing everything they can to “catch up” before they pull the trigger and end their existence for good.
What follows is what I can only describe as an existential dramedy where the characters are taking actions or saying things solely for the sake of a change. The script is poetic and has a “stream of consciousness” quality to it which I enjoyed. Lines like “the coyotes will use our bones to pick their teeth” made me smirk in delight.
The performance is commendable, however; I found it to be a bit “recited” and “monotone” where it felt like Halpern and Woroner were sort of saying things in a rushed, hollow way like it was being read from a page as opposed to being truly, deeply felt and expressed in the moment. I had the impression that the intriguing philosophies and discussions the two characters were having would have interested me more if I felt like they too were interested and passionate in what they were saying.
So all in all, I was able to appreciate the concepts, story and beautiful lines coming out of the actors’ mouths, I just wanted a little bit more gusto from the performers themselves.
This review is based on the July 5 preview performance of the production.
- An Orchid and Other Such Lilies and Lies plays at the Factory Theatre Studio. (125 Bathurst St.)
- 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 (275 Bathurst St.), and — if any remain — from the venue’s box office starting one hour before curtain.
- Content Warnings: mature language; not recommended for children.
- The Fringe Festival considers this venue to be wheelchair-accessible.
- Be aware that Fringe performances always start exactly on time, and that latecomers are never admitted.
- The Toronto Fringe Festival is scent-free: please do not wear perfumes, colognes, or other strongly-scented products.
- Friday July 5th, 5:30 pm
- Saturday July 6th, 1:30 pm
- Monday July 8th, 9:45 pm
- Wednesday July 10th, 8:00 pm
- Thursday July 11th, 4:00 pm
- Saturday July 13th, 4:30 pm
- Sunday July 14th, 6:00 pm
Photo of David Woroner and Daniel Halpern by Ken Woroner.