Thatre Preview: Fall Bill won’t fall down

By Nathan Atnikov

The weight of society’s expectations is something we all deal with but rarely talk about. With the presentation of the upcoming double bill, Fall Bill Volume 2, THEATREboom artistic directors Joel Smith and Evan Rothery bring the topic to centre stage–literally. Both plays on the bill this year centre around characters unsatisfied with their positions in life, audiences catch up with them as they attempt to find their way. The first of the two plays, Gary, was co-written by Smith.

“He represents the simplest qualities of being a citizen,” Smith says of the titular character. “He has a job, pays his taxes, that kind of thing. But he spends his whole life trying to figure out how to be accepted. He wants to be the guy in the suit, the guy working at the oil company, and the guy with the membership at the beautiful club with the swimming pool.”

The play picks up with Gary after he finds inspiration in motivational speaker Tony Robbins, and the self-acceptance begins. Smith remains tight-lipped about where his character goes from there.

“I don’t want to give too much away,” Smith says. “But the play is about love of oneself, regardless of society.”

The evening’s second show, Intervention, deals with similar themes of societal acceptance and personal demons, though its main character is more obviously desperate.

“Intervention is a more character-driven piece,” says Rothery, who also stars in the play. “[The main character] deals with tragedy by going into a hole with drinking and drugs, but the play doesn’t focus on that necessarily. It deals with the questions of society, and what you should do with your life. Both plays are pretty explosive and emotional, but funny too.”

Plays like these don’t immediately jump out at you for their comedic potential, in fact the opposite is usually true. Smith insists THEATREboom’s knowledge of audiences–Fall Bill is aimed at university-aged theatre-goers– allows them a certain leeway with humour.

“We have a particular sense of humour that’s very representative of the sense of humour our generation has,” he says. “We choose plays written by young artists, and we’re telling stories that are truly immediate. Our audience are likely to be the kind of people that watch The Daily Show every day, and so we all share that sense of cynicism.”

With a balance of weighty topics and levity, THEATREboom’s Fall Bill Volume 2 is likely to be a worthwhile experience. The approach of doing two different one act plays in an evening has both Smith and Rothery clearly excited.

“It’s like the old movie theatres,” Smith concludes. “Where you get two for the price of one. A whole evening experience.”

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