The idea of a comedy play that's centred around something we are all really familiar with at the moment - ‘listicles’ - is quite intriguing. I see them pop up all the time and often they are an amusing, or at least an entertaining way to pass five minutes or so.
Quite honestly I'm unable to see what I got out of this play that I wouldn't get out of the equivalent Buzzfeed article.
On that premise, Canadian playwright Jason Hall has written a script that attempts to expand on that idea, turning what would be a humorous online listicle into a fifty-minute mock seminar of sorts, with solo-lead Rose Johnson playing the part of the public speaker who uses the list to rally support for Toronto's infamously "colourful" mayor, Rob Ford.
Johnson’s character, a Canadian barmaid working in Scotland, has ended up speaking publicly for both sides: Canadians in Scotland are both for and against Rob Ford as mayor. As she prepares for the upcoming speech in front of the "for" group, cracks start to appear as she can no longer stand behind what she is saying. There's kicking off of shoes, drinking of whiskey and a spat with her tech guy, after which she sloppily finishes the list, no longer seeming to remember which side she's talking to.
Johnson has a smiling determination that is, at times, suitably intimidating, but beyond that she doesn’t have much more to bring. The repeated nose-pinching and deep inhalations become repetitive to the point of irritation and show very little depth of character. This should be a part that Johnson can really get her teeth into as an actor, but she gets nowhere near. The breakdown from perfectly poised and prepared to drunkenly sloppy and honest is what this play relies on. Without it, it's basically just a slideshow of funny or ridiculous Rob Ford quotes. I did laugh - but I laughed at Rob Ford. Which I don't think was the point.
I left without a clear idea of what Hall was trying to say with this piece. Sitting on the fence is all very well, but at least make it clear that that's what you're doing. When you comment without saying very much at all then you leave the audience rather underwhelmed. Quite honestly I'm unable to see what I got out of this play that I wouldn't get out of the equivalent Buzzfeed article.