Reviewed by Ian Huffam
Rideshares & Rope Swings is the promising Fringe debut from Two Kind Boys, and if their narrative skills and playful stagecraft is any indication, we should expect more pleasing shows like this one to come.
In Rideshares we meet Reid, who makes a ridesharing agreement with Genevieve that will take them both from Ottawa to Thunder Bay. Both have their own dark reasons for going, but both try to keep it under wraps until a minor traffic accident forces them to spend a night in Deep River and they confront not only each other but themselves.
The plotline to this show is simple and easy to follow – there are the occasional flash-forwards to a year later when both Reid and Genevieve decide to reach out to each other after a year of no contact, but these are few and far between and don’t confuse matters. Rather, the flash-forwards help give more meaning to what would otherwise be the storyline to an amusing indie comedy movie – this is only the beginning of their relationship, or so I see it. Regardless of scale, the plot moves along not too slowly or too fast, and the jokes that are constantly peppered throughout arise organically from the characters’ own personalities rather than at their expense from the writers. One particularly memorable passage comes when Reid and Genevieve, while eating at an OnRoute-style road stop, analyze the personality types that select any given food court selection: I haven’t laughed at a fast food joke in a long time, but the impressively valid argument that “A&W is for sexists” is both unexpected and hilarious, as well as arising from Reid’s constant overanalysis of the world around him due to his many neuroses.
The set for this show is minimal – two wooden chairs – but these two chairs are exploited to their full potential through creative lighting (I can’t give more detail without ruining it) as well as a fun sense of hypertheatricality (who says a chair can’t play the part of a backpack?).
The performers do excellent jobs as well: Matt Hertendy as Reid gives a performance that captures the many hang-ups that a person can indulge while privately recognizing their invalidity, like a less sexist Woody Allen. Zoe Towne has a slightly more challenging role as Genevieve, whose initial interest in and humouring of Reid forms a cover for the confusion and grief that she is secretly holding inside. As she lashes out and finally reveals her reason for going to Thunder Bay, Towne realistically plays a character who is emotionally drained but has to keep going for necessity’s sake.
Two Kind Boys has only been a company for less than a year, but if their first Fringe offering is anything to go by, then they will have future Fringe (and hopefully regular season?) shows to enjoy. Don’t miss an encouraging start.
Rideshares & Rope Swings
A Two Kind Boys production
Written by Matt Hertendy
Directed by Matthew Venner
Performed by Matt Hertendy and Zoe Towne
At Studio Léonard-Beaulne