First trip out to Factory Theatre this Fringe for my visit to the mainspace last night for Grayson Moore’s Ways to Kill Ethyl. And what a trip it was!
Moore’s play (he also directed) is a both dark and hilarious evening at a family potluck, introduced in camp fire horror story style by The Storyteller (Peter Spence), a cowboy with a southern drawl who starts off telling us a story of two brothers who unwittingly come across nuclear waste containers, rambling through the details of how they were contaminated and giving us vague ending at best before getting back on track with the story at hand. Siblings Eudora (Krista Hovsepian) and Patrick (Jeff Ulrich) are in the final stages of hatching their plot to kill their grandmother Ethyl (Susan Q. Wilson) at a family potluck gathering and wondering how their brother Victor (Tyler Champagne), the only one among them who visits Ethyl and who she trusts, will take it. Their plan is partly revenge-driven – they blame Ethyl for their parents’ fatal car accident – and, even more so, fuelled by greed.
From Patrick arriving with a small arsenal of household murder weapons and poison, but forgetting to buy milk, to Eudora’s mini-kitchen disaster, leaving only meatballs for dinner – the laughs just keep coming in this play. Ulrich is hilarious as the dim-witted but pensive Patrick and the perfect foil to Hovsepian’s foul-mouthed and more organized Eudora. When Victor first arrives with Ethyl, we don’t know quite what to make of his appearance, his hair slicked back, and wearing white pants and an open deep blue shirt – but it soon becomes apparent that he has a trip to Greece coming up. Paid for by Ethyl. And, even more hilarious, he’s a Greek wanna-be. Champagne is suitably smug and irritating, spouting Greek philospher quotes at the drop of a hat and as Ethyl’s apparent favourite, but he’s not all that he seems to be either. Susan Q. Wilson’s Ethyl is a lovely, youthful and sociable grandmother – and one is hard-pressed to figure out why the siblings would want to kill such a nice lady. Spence re-appears as local law enforcement, called out to investigate reports of a gun shot heard coming from the potluck and finding a dead gunshot victim and an unconscious poisoning victim when he arrives, serving up some hysterical bumbling police work that is as dim-witted as the siblings’ murder plot. Wilson also does double duty as police station secretary Meredith, a seemingly air-headed but astute 20-something who knows procedure better than the cop. Idiocy reigns and justice is certainly not served.
Yep, nothing says big riotous, dark comic fun like a story about dim-witted siblings plotting to kill their granny. Don’t want to tell you much more – it’ll be much more fun when you go see it yourself. This is another show that is packing audiences in, so advanced tickets or early arrival at the venue box office are strongly recommended.
Ways to Kill Ethyl continues at the Factory Theatre Mainspace until July 15. Check the Fringe site for scheduling: http://fringetoronto.com