After appearing in Zombies Vs. Robots on the third night of the 2010 Elizabeth Boardmore One Act Play Festival, I sat down to enjoy the second play of the evening—Breaking the Tower, a new comedy by Lindsay Thompson, directed by Nicole MacDougall.
Thompson impressed a lot of people with last year’s Herstory in the one act festival, and Breaking the Tower showed much of the same skill, but much more streamlined and a bit more matured. The writing itself was clever and funny with some great timing on the part of the writer and the actors. The story was fun, and the relationships created, which was the main focus of the play, were quickly established through the jokes.
The two main relationships were: princess and prince in a potential romance, and prince and prince in a rivalry. The princess and prince relationship was the bulk of the play and was a treat to watch develop. Princess Rosalays is a modern, independent princess whose mother wants her to be the classic damsel in distress so she can get married, but she’d rather just read. So, while locked in a tower, this is what she does instead of waiting for rescue. Portrayed by Brittany Fagan-Steele, Rosalays shows the bitterness of not having control of her own life, while still coming off as a likable, and sympathetic character. The prince, similarly, is being forced to be the best, or better than his best as the case would be, and as a result is somewhat of a failure, most recently in trying to rescue Rosalays. Michael Taylor gave us a very likable twit with Prince Gerard. Everyone wanted Gerard to succeed, but it was funnier to watch him fail. Michael’s transitions from “noble speech” to “awww! C’mon!” were flawless. To oppose Taylor’s prince was Jonathan Collins. I will state it simply, it’s something I’ve said before: nobody plays a fop as well as Jonathan Collins. The jerk of the story—chauvinistic, arrogant, meddling and just downright mean, he was a character the audience didn’t want to like, but they did.
The set was simple (a small tower for Rosalays and a rock for Gerard to mope on) and fitting to the story. Nothing extra, nothing unnecessary. Additionally, the actions and directions were simple and to the point. Timing was key and was, more times than not, spot on. MacDougall—in her one act directorial debut—showed an excellent sense of the stage through her actors.
The only problem I had with the play was “the message” at the end. The message throughout was that being yourself and not having to impress anyone else is enough for anyone, and you can be happy on your own. Until, at the very end, the princess decides that she’d be happier with a man named George. Then the message changed to “find someone you really love” which is a fine message, but somewhat contradictory to the rest of the story. Also, the second message then became somewhat overshadowed by the bigger “joke ending” which saw Collins’ prince climb the tower himself only to be accosted by yet another prince.
A very funny play, with some very funny people, equals a very funny night at the theatre. Kudos to all involved on a job well done.