Lots of Laughter While Two Ac-Tor’s Play

regan theil and david straus
Have you ever been so bored that your imagination creates a convenient escape by drawing inspiration from random word associations and runs absolutely wild? That is the concept of David Straus’ play ac-tor, which plays at the Tarragon Theatre Extra Space as part of the 2010 Toronto Fringe Festival.
The play opens with an actor delivering a monologue about do-it-yourself wood products and it quickly becomes clear that he is filming an infomercial. Yet, his director is still oddly committed to eliciting the strongest performance possible from him as though the infomercial has been crammed with all the subtly and nuance of Chekhov. While he is asked to repeat the same words again and again, the play launches into the actor’s imagination, where he pretends that he is playing a series of characters, telling a series of stories with clear motivations and dramatic arcs.
The audience is suddenly swept away from the sound studio and dropped into the middle of an array of scenes from various plays that only exist in this actor’s imagination, some dramatic, some comedic, some spoofing popular films, one particularly well executed Shakespeare parody and even a production number from a musical. The style of acting required for the scene cleverly mirrors, or is at least inspired by, the direction that the actor has just been given for the next reading of the infomercial.
The result is a fun little romp of a play where David Straus and Regan Thiel throw themselves into absurdity and parody with panache and spirit. Straus gives a bit of a guarded performance, but Thiel really shines exquisitely throughout. For those of you who follow Toronto musical theatre, you likely know that with Thiel’s gorgeous and sweet soprano voice and her endearing curly blond hair and dimples, she makes the picture perfect ingénue, but I am here to tell you that she also has impeccable comic timing and gives a performance in this play that is utterly hysterical. Her vocal prowess at the end of the play set off fireworks in my heart.
This is a play that is imaginative and entertaining and features committed performances from two proficient actors. It may not prompt you to pause for any dramatic revelation, but it is certainally likely to make you laugh and feel warm inside.

ac-tor plays at the Tarragon Theatre Extra Space (30 Bridgman Avenue) at the following times:
Thu, July 8 8:45 PM
Fri, July 9 3:30 PM
Sat, July 10 5:15 PM
Sun, July 11 1:45 PM
all tickets $10 at the door or book in advance by calling the fringe hotline at 416.966.1062 or go online at http://www.fringetoronto.com/.

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