FRINGE 2015: Checking Out of the Library

By Jay Menard

There’s a fine line between surrealism and randomness — and that line is the thread that binds a production together. Unfortunately for The Library, that thread is quickly frayed rendering the show one that’s better in concept than in execution.

While there is the element of challenging the audience present, the structural core is nowhere near solid enough to prop up the production. It is a veritable merging of the institutional, uber-violence of A Clockwork Orange, with the gender-fluid sexuality and Alien-out-of-water social perspective of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, combined with a heaping helping of Bollywood.

The play can be hard to watch on many levels: its focus, at times, is kaleidoscopic in nature; its level of violence — in many cases sexual violence is, if not explicitly portrayed, is significantly implied (including one scene that used Gimmie Shelter as a soundtrack) — was off-putting to some audience members; and, for me, the physical layout of the production is a barrier. Located in the basement of 177 Dundas, the seats are arranged around the outer walls — with a huge wooden staircase in the middle. Obstructed views are the norm to the point where I missed the climactic scene — simply because my field of vision was blocked.

There’s a social commentary in there about humanity, but it’s applied with a buckshot approach when a little more refinement may be required. There are some solid individual performances; the musical elements are good; and the choreography has its moments. And when they’re not blocked by support beams or staircases, you can see the earnestness of the performances.

In the end, The Library a show that warrants a second watch. But it may not be one that merits it.

This opening weekend review has been posted on behalf of Theatre in London.ca.

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