Reviews - Fringe 2014

Fringe Review: The Conspiracy of Michael

By Ryan McGreal
Published July 19, 2014

Everything is connected!
Everything is connected!

This short, thought-provoking play starts with Michael (Stephen Near) dictating a paranoid worldview into a recording device to be played back by Lily. He describes a state-run education system that takes the wide-open possibilities of childhood and systematically ratchets them down to a single right answer.

Like the system Michael describes into the recorder, this play starts with wide-open potential and then turns around an ever-shrinking radius as it progresses toward a deeply personal conclusion.

This is not a criticism: the restrained emotional intensity between Michael and his sister (Lauren Repei) focuses and humanizes what could have unwound into a sprawling mess had the playwright let the story unfold differently.

The play was enjoyable while I was watching it and satisfying in how it ended, and I continued to enjoy thinking about it later, imagining different ways it could have played out.

I don't think I would have found myself doing that had I not been primed by the opening, which cleverly employs the unhealthy conspiracy theory thought pattern to evoke a healthy introspection.

Ryan McGreal, the editor of Raise the Hammer, lives in Hamilton with his family and works as a programmer, writer and consultant. Ryan volunteers with Hamilton Light Rail, a citizen group dedicated to bringing light rail transit to Hamilton. Ryan writes a city affairs column in Hamilton Magazine, and several of his articles have been published in the Hamilton Spectator. He also maintains a personal website and has been known to post passing thoughts on Twitter @RyanMcGreal. Recently, he took the plunge and finally joined Facebook.

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By RayL (registered) | Posted July 26, 2014 at 11:35:22

What a fine piece -- taut and witty, with a few surprises that left me wanting more. There's much more to be done with this play and I hope they do it.

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