2012 Toronto Fringe Festival: A Slight Ache

Harold Pinter’s one-act tragicomedy returns in a new production at the Toronto Fringe Festival

Presented by special arrangement with Dramatists Play Service, Inc., New York
Written by Harold Pinter

At first glance, the scene is that of a happy, domestic life—a smiling wife admires her garden, and her husband reads the morning paper over breakfast. This calm is short-lived though, as a wasp is found hiding in the marmalade, which sets in motion the strange series of events that make up A Slight Ache, now playing at Tarragon Theatre Mainspace as part of this year’s Toronto Fringe Festival.

Eccentric, excitable Edward (Jason Thompson) and his friendly, gentle wife Flora (Angela Froese) lead a simple life, with Edward rubbing his eyes furiously on occasion, as he experiences “a slight ache” in them every so often. When Edward notices a matchseller (Christopher Kelk) standing outside his home with a tray of matches, unmoving, he becomes anxious and almost fearful. Flora takes it upon herself to prove to Edward that the matchseller is harmless, and coaxes him inside for a “cup of lemon,” to which he obliges. Christopher Kelk’s portrayal of the matchseller simply requires him to stand still and look stoic, as he never utters a word or shows any facial expression throughout the entire production.

The ensuing scenes consist of Edward and Flora speaking in long monologues to the matchseller, as he stands, or sits, without expression or comment. The audience discovers a great deal about Edward in his scenes, as he runs the gamut of emotion in his dialogue, becoming increasingly more impatient with the matchseller’s silence. Flora spends time with the matchseller as well, using her womanly wiles to flirt with him in hope of a response.

Unfortunately, both Thompson and Froese are over-the-top in the delivery of their lines, and the dramatic tension between husband and wife is never fully developed. Edward’s time with the matchseller is far too drawn out to hold the audience’s attention, his humour falling flat halfway through the performance. That being said, Thompson is believable and energetic in his portrayal of Edward, but it is often difficult for the audience to follow his thoughts, as they are very abstract, and the dialogue is scattered. This ache could use some directorial relief.

A Slight Ache plays until July 15th at Tarragon Theatre Mainspace. Visit fringetoronto.com for more information and to buy tickets.

Show Dates: 
Wed, 2012-07-11 - Sun, 2012-07-15
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