Reviews - Fringe 2019

The Greatest Minds

By Alison Nicholson
Published July 24, 2019


The Greatest Minds is an original play featuring a cast of homegrown talent. Director/Writer Francesca Brugnano is best known for her musical Acts of Fiction and the prehistoric Cave 10. This year her playwriting skill takes on a darker tone of personal tragedy set against the discovery of a mind-altering weapon.

The cast, clad in lab coats, are fearful that their research and its discovery has them looking over their shoulders. The scientists, dubbed the greatest minds, have been brought together into a think tank with the promise of a state-of-the-art research facility. What if their research leads to disaster?

If that were not enough, each harbours a deeper secret of love, loss and guilt with outcomes equally as painful.

Sara Laux, as a forward-thinking scientist, adequately takes on the team who want to scrap the project, and that is the last thing she has in mind. Her ultimate decision creates the tension in this not-quite-thriller.

Kimberly Jonasson, one of the area's hardest-working performers, is the potty-mouthed specialist whose voice of reason peppers the plot with a not-in-my-lifetime attitude. Kim does this with full force and "f" bombs.

Rebekah Pullen plays the puppet master and keeper of the research cash with energy and sass: she has, after all, summoned this genius trio.

Jamie Taylor, the lone male in the cast, is believable as a tragic character with the deepest personal secret.

As a cast they work very well together. The play has a lot going on and a little trimming wouldn't hurt.

Sound and lights are masterfully engineered by Peter Jonasson, providing a great soundscape.

The production tends to slow down in places and picks up where it counts. High heels are not the best sound effect on the hollow stage, and can't be helped, maybe a carpet could muffle some sound which at times I found distracting. But aside, some may not even notice, and its doesn't detract from the play itself.

The intriguing story requires attention and a smart ensemble cast is a welcome diversion in a festival where single acts rule.

Alison recently wrote and performed, "Love, Loss and the shit in between" for Mind Play at the Staircase, Main Stage and has performed stand-up sketches for the Hammer First Timers at 'Zylas'. Acting credits include; "The Importance of Being Ernest," "Cakewalk," "Top Girls," "She Stoops to Conquer," "The Maids," and directed; "The Rivals," and "The House of Bernarda Alba." Alison directed "Der Zug" for the Hamilton Fringe written by Valerie Kay. The Pearl produced Alison's first original play "A Certain Slant of Light," directed by Annalee Flint. Alison reviewed the Fringe Gallery performances for the Hub in 2018. Alison's first Fringe experience was in Edinburgh, as lighting tech for the San Quentin Drama Workshop from the US. A graduate of McMaster University, Drama, Emmanuel College, U of T, and Niagara College school of technical theatre.

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