Fringe adventures began this afternoon at the George Ignatieff Theatre (GIT) when I met up with pals Kat, Lizzie, Janis, Laurie and playwright Brandon Pitts to see One Night – co-written by Pitts and actor Angela Brown.
To say that One Night is just a romcom would be missing the point, but wouldn’t be entirely untrue either. Directed by Shaista Latif, One Night tells the story of a plus-sized woman’s journey to overcome low self-esteem and make her own way in the world despite societal and familial pressures and expectations.
Latif has assembled an amazing, funny cast for this story of Penny (Angela Brown), a smart, good-humoured single plus-sized woman who works transcribing medical notes but longs to be a chef. Barraged by invasive, sabotaging phone calls from her mother and pestered by her crazy cat lady co-worker Cassandra (Tanya Filipopoulos), and bolstered by her pals Julie (Sangeeta Wylie) and Oksana (Rachel Moase, who also voices Penny’s mum), Penny manages to navigate life with grace under pressure.
But Penny has had it with her virgin status. She meets sloppy drunk Dean (Chris Leveille) and handsome player Troy (Nick Stojanovic) in Hank’s (Sean Delville) bar – and both men hit on her. Maybe a one-night stand is just the ticket. After accepting Troy’s number, she doesn’t call – but with some well-meaning interference from Oksana, ends up inviting Troy over for dinner.
In collaboration, Brown and Pitts write women really well. And Penny is no shrinking violet damsel in distress here – she is a strong, intelligent woman in the process of finding the courage to overcome personal obstacles and realize her dreams.
Excellent performances all around, with a lovely playful girlfriend vibe to the girls’ nights out at the bar and Penny’s home, with Wylie’s level-headed Julie a perfect foil for Moase’s playful vamp Oksana. Leveille is hilarious as the drunken would-be Romeo Dean, while Stojanovic oozes sex and charm – and even sweetness – as Troy. And Delville is fabulous as the classic wise-cracking bartender Hank. Additional voice work was provided by Ahsan Mogul (also the stage manager for the production) for Penny’s meditation CD.
The greatest romance in this play is the one Penny finds in herself. She’s worth it.
One Night continues its run at the GIT until July 15. For scheduling, visit the Fringe site: http://fringetoronto.com