The description of Tasteless in The Fringe Festival Guide promises to explore surveillance in entertainment culture and the interaction that takes place between a performer and audience. While this philosophical concept could lend itself to a variety of clever discussions and contexts, Tasteless chooses the most obvious route by making its central character a comedian that is always expected to be funny in a world where he does not want to be.
The story explores his interactions as he adjusts to a post-sitcom life, and ultimately, the unfortunate, but too-common exploitation in the form of inappropriate pictures being released to the public.
For a show that wanted to push the boundaries of what is considered "funny," and create a larger public conversation, the double-entendre-filled script of Tasteless simply doesn't cut it.
The ending scene, meant to provide a dark twist to this comedy, is the most obvious physical manifestation of a metaphorical situation. In this way, Tasteless does not provide the opportunity for a conversation about the culture of consumption that the writers wished to invoke.
The play does, however, find strength in its comedic timing and polished choreography, courtesy of co-directors Dylan Duarte, Ian Wilush and Nick Kozij. Quick jokes and quips are exchanged like wildfire, and it's clear that the pacing, entrances and exits determined by the three are critical to the success of the play.
Movement often takes multiple meanings, and the physical determinations set by the directors allow the actors to shine.
Unlike many Fringe productions this year, Tasteless welcomes a larger cast with six members. It is encouraging to see so many cast members who have either recently graduated or are in the process of earning their post-secondary degrees at McMaster.
Of particular note is the performance of Claire Shingleton-Smith as Lisa, and Rowan Traynor as Stan; both of whom add a depth and range to what could have been one-dimensional characters.
The cast works brilliantly together as an ensemble. However, they are limited by the material in the script. That aside, these young actors are a bright light in the future of the Hamilton theatre scene, and supporting these emerging artists is worth attending this production.
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