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 wrote a city affairs column in Hamilton Magazine, and several of his articles have been published in the Hamilton Spectator. His articles have also been published in The Walrus, HuffPost and Behind the Numbers. He maintains a personal website, has been known to share passing thoughts on Twitter and Facebook, and posts the occasional cat photo on Instagram.

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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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