Who: Open Heart Arts
What: Relative Loneliness
Length: 50 Minutes
Where: Hamilton Fringe Festival Theatre On Demand Series
When: July 16-25, 2021
Tickets: From $5 -$20 via the Hamilton Fringe Festival Box Office
Playwright Steve Hartwell introductory notes to Relative Loneliness claim he was determined not to write a lockdown play. Yet the play opens with a scene familiar to many – co-lead Will (Jesse Horvath) sitting in a comfy chair dressed in his housecoat playing video games while chowing down on a bag of Doritos. Fortunately for those tired of pandemic themed plays, Hartwell pivots away from this to bring us a piece that would be a showcase play for any year of Fringe.
Billed as a play looking at the ways we fall into loneliness, this Open Heart Arts Theatre project tackles both that as well as a number of other poignant social issues. Jean, brilliantly played by Jen Frankel, acts as a catalyst to explore the impact intergenerational biases have on others. It is a refreshing change to see such a well rounded – and surprisingly hip – senior character on stage.
Rounding out the trio of actors on modest stage set-up is Hamilton theatre veteran, Rebekka Gondosch. Playing the character of Jude, she deftly ties together the performances of the other actors as her character attempts to balance the responsibility of family and her own social life. Gondosch brings a deft performance to the role and manages to draw the audience in to her plight – her enabling behaviour throughout the piece being something to which many can relate.
The one drawback to Relative Loneliness would have to be the alternating camera angles, which is recognized not an issue of Open Heart Arts, but by the film producers of the Fringe Festival. Presenting a staged performance digitally has been a challenge for most theatre companies but in this case, a single camera may have worked better. Regardless of this, this play is definitely not one to miss in this year’s Fringe.
Editor’s Note: It is recognized that a performer in Relative Loneliness is also a writer for Beyond James. To avoid any potential conflict of interest in writing this review, a reviewer was assigned to this production who had no knowledge of the performer’s past history as a theatre artist or with the blog.