SummerWorks Play Review: Third Floor, August 9

Toronto – I suspect that most people who’ve lived in a condo or apartment building or similar shared space have had a neighbour they don’t really know who does something that bugs them. I actually don’t so much at the building I’m in now, except for the old couple next door who scream at each other in Greek most evenings.

In Third Floor, the problem for the unnamed residents of condo 11 (Kristian Bruun) and condo 12 (Kaitlyn Riordan), respectively, is that the unseen woman who lives in 10 keeps leaving her trash bags out into the hallway. This leads to a series of sitcom-ish interactions between 11 and 12 for the first half of the show as they get to know each other better every time they bump into each other in the hall and debate what to do about the lady and her trash. What to do outside of knocking on the door and talking to her about it, of course, because that would be too easy, and would mean scary direct confrontation.

The two do a bit of bonding watching Alfred Hitchcock movies together, which I suppose is foreshadowing for the Hitchcock-type turn the plot takes in the second half. 11 goes more than a little crazy, 12 gets caught up in it, they end up in a bit of a conspiracy thing together, and no one ends up very happy.

It’s not bad, mostly because Bruun and Riordan do quite well in their respective roles. Director Ashlie Corcoran and playwright Jason Hall would really like the show to be a lot like Rear Window, particularly in the way it shows the passage of time, but there’s just not enough going on here to justify that kind of pacing. Rear Window keeps you guessing and in every scene, even the briefest ones, something happens that makes you wonder “did he do it?” Here, all that happens in the briefest scenes is the lady in condo 10 throws out another bag of trash. The juxtaposition of the quirky, light first half with the tense intrigue of the second works well, but the first half shares the same problem: there’s a lot of scenes with cute Friends-like dialogue, but there’s just not enough going on here to justify all these scenes taking up that much time. Add some kind of subplot or three or delete about a half hour from the show’s 75 minutes run time and this likely becomes a much better show.

Third Floor runs through Sunday August 14th as part of SummerWorks. Check the website for schedule and tickets.

Posted on by Brian in Reviews, Summerworks, Theatre

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