Scary Dead Broke

I saw Will King’s darkly comic Dead Broke today at the Toronto Fringe.

I was blown away by King’s first play From the Water in December 2018, amazingly good for a first play. This one is better, unfolding in a remarkably economical 60 minutes.

(L to R): Claire Shenstone-Harris, Gordon Harper, Will King, Courtney Keir, Elle Reimer
(photo by Calvin Petersen & Will King)

I often see operas, dance works or spoken theatre creations running 70 to 80 minutes where I swear they’re padded to seem more substantial, when they could have told their story in an hour or less. Yes a Hamlet or a Parsifal take longer.

King packs a great deal into his 60 minutes. Every word counts.

King also portrays his gormless protagonist Oliver alongside Courtney Keir, Claire Shenstone-Harris, Gordon Harper and Elle Reimer, a strong and believable cast creating suspense, directed by Calvin Petersen.

Here’s the promotional blurb from The Fringe website:

Oliver, a university student, is in trouble. After switching majors and losing all financial support, he begins squatting in an abandoned home to reduce costs and save his relationship. But when the house is revealed to have a sinister past, and someone goes missing, Oliver’s life spirals desperately out of control. This surreal thriller, and dark ensemble comedy, asks us what we do when we are at a point of identity crisis. What’s the cost of living for nothing?

The life of a 20-something artist can be pretty scary even without a father cutting off financial support, unexpected plot twists, romance & mysterious sounds in the night. When you add the possibility of drugs to alter consciousness, reality itself becomes more & more tenuous.

I really love the existential ambiguities created in King’s text. I’m not exactly sure what I saw in the hour of Dead Broke, which is totally enjoyable, very cool.

There are four more performances of Dead Broke, July 13, 14, 16 and 17 @ Tarragon’s Extraspace. Click for further info.

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