Fringeist: Check Into The Gladstone Variations (Part Two)
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Fringeist: Check Into The Gladstone Variations (Part Two)

2007_07_12Gladstone.jpeg A funny thing happened near the end of the short play “The Card Trick” last afternoon in the second variation of The Gladstone Variations. The action moved outside to the alley behind the hotel and the audience was told to stand in a driveway next to the hotel’s back entrance to watch the action unfold. Unfortunately, there was an humongous Jeep parked in the driveway; the kind where the alarm goes off not because you have touched it, but because you were standing rather too close to its personal space.
In a show like The Gladstone Variations, it can be hard at times to tell who are actors and who are just passersby. But it became clear very soon that the angry man who emerged from the back of the building next door screaming at the audience to “get off my fucking property!” was no theatrical illusion. The actors tried valiantly to continue the performance, while a host of stage managers and audience wranglers attempted to placate the incensed/insane man who refused to turn off his Jeep’s car alarm. Audience members stuck together and got as radical as Torontonian theatregoers are likely to get—instead of yelling “fuck off and die!” in response, they stuck to “why don’t you enroll in some anger management sessions and allow us to watch the play?”
Although the ending of that show was moderately ruined by the screaming person, it did little to quash the audience’s high spirits and appreciation for the fantastic show. There was a wonderful round of vindicated laughter when an actor whose character exists both within “The Card Trick” and the other part of the second variation, “I Grow Old,” ad-libbed a line about “assholes with car alarms who think they own the world.” The second variation is equally as compelling and exciting as the first, and you cannot truly get the full experience of the show without having seen both, although the order is not particularly important. Pieces of information that seem confusing or unexplained in one become absolutely essential to the understanding of the others. Spending two nights or a night and an afternoon chasing actors throughout the historic hotel and seeking out stories is a thrilling theatrical experience, and one worth fighting for. As much as Torontonian theatregoers are willing to fight for anything.
Photo by — brian — from the Torontoist Flickr Pool.

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