Reviews - Fringe 2009

Laund-o-Mat at the End of the World

By Tom Mackan
Published July 18, 2009

Written and Directed by Peter Gruner
Featuring Shari Vandermolen and Michael Hannigan

I am seriously provoked. That's what a provocative play does to you. Its writing, its direction, and the acting are highly provocative. This is Peter Gruner's first play, getting a second go-round in the Fringe after its premier last year at The Pearl. It has a new set, all fresh and spiffy. Mike Hannigan designed it, I'm told. Good.

Gruner brings two disparate people, a man and woman, into a Laundromat, irritatingly called "Laund-o-mat" (as I suggest, it's a provocative piece), and convinces us by plausible narrative that the end of the world is imminent, indeed, that very night. (Brace yourselves: you will be seeing this production for brilliant effects, just not of the technical kind.)

Antagonism between the characters is instantaneous, one for staking her territory first and protecting it, the other having forgotten his laundry soap and herein begins the main provocation... two human beings doing the last laundry of not only their own, but of all human existence. Really? Or?

It's a shooting gallery of off-centre focuses, this play. The actors have mastered the fireworks with their impressive skills, and the director has cleverly hidden the target.

After the show, and you're standing around with others in the audience briskly questioning the evidence and looking for suspects and feeling not a little bit foolish, remember - don't let provocation become irritation. Enjoy yourselves.


Tom Mackan is Publisher and editor of NEWZY BITZ, an online Community Theatre newsletter in the GHA, with over 200 subscribers. He is a Member of the Board, Theatre Burlington; an actor and director in GHA Community Theatre for fifty years; winner of over 25 awards and citations in the Western Ontario region and beyond; recipient of 2007 City of Hamilton Arts Award (Theatre); a Graduate of Canadian Theatre School (Sterndale Bennett) Toronto, 1955; and a retired teacher of English and Drama in public and private schools in the GHA and abroad.


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