Reviews - Fringe 2009

A Modicum of Freedom

By Tom Mackan
Published July 20, 2009

By Ryan M. Sero
Directed by Scott Fairley
Featuring Michael Anania, Monica Cairney, Noah Gerrard Hicks, Kaitlyn McGee, Craig Rintoul, Ryan M. Sero

It is into a post-apocalyptic society that playwright Sero takes us. He has assumed a daunting task, but the world this production opens for us has credibility of sorts. Canada, one may assume. 2087 is mentioned, and an authoritarian and paternalistic political movement has taken charge (The Integralists).

A Prime Minister speaks to us about the advantages of life as controlled by government. There is a hero, a likeable and ingenuous citizen who is employed by the Ministry of Arts and Culture, and supervised by a tyrannous and overbearing dolt. A wife, listless and unfocused, and an assortment of characters who may or may not be terrorists.

Funny it is all intended to be, a parody, we can assume, of ourselves and what we might be heading for as our national future unfolds. But we're not laughing, really, although the writing is comedic and absurd.

The reason is not the acting nor the directing nor us. We are all there and ready to go... but where? For me, I couldn't find where I should be focusing. Everybody is funny, and there is no threat nor sense of what could happen.

Why not? We've got a likeable, sincere hero, wonderfully created and played by Ryan Sero, a guy to worry about. But there's nothing to worry about really, because there is no real threat. All his antagonists are non-threatening. They're all funny, too, and also likeable.

Tension, even in absurdity, is needed to give energy to the proceedings. When Herbert Q. Milk (indeed, for it is he who is hero) finds he can rise and foil the future that has been written for him, there is not much relief to feel. It's good, but not electric.

See this show, do. There are wonderful little moments and clever performances. Noah Gerrard Hicks gets a big kick out of playing the insidious security officer and it's enjoyable. Craig Rintoul makes great hay out of the party hack, the Prime Minister, and of course, Ryan Sero has the ball all the way as the innocent and endearing victim of all the foolishness, the bumpkin who outsmarts the slickers.

The writing is new and deserves to be worked. The Fringe Festival is a great place to start.


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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