Victoria Fringe Festival 2017 – All These People Watching
Review by Kiana Karimkhani – Showbill.ca Guest Writer
August 26, 2017
All These People Watching is a family affair—literally. Written and performed by real-life married couple Krista Wallace and Matt Lees, the play also stars their two grown-up children, David Lees and Maggie Lees (collectively outfitted in khaki shorts, it’s a perfunctory clue they’re that family).
Set around a camping table with lawn chairs, potato chips, and a thickset rolling cooler replete with beer, the show is an autobiographical recounting of poignant moments from their lives. Maggie mulls over where to attend university—UVic, her parent’s alma mater, or Capilano, where her brother attends (Maggie’s currently a UVic Phoenix Theatre student, so the former won); David solemnly remembers his high school graduation dance that was marked by the death of his grandpa a few days before; Mum and Dad share stories of their kids when they were, well, littler kids. They play cards, text back and forth (describing the emojis as they type, i.e.: tongue-out-face), and there’s a particularly intimate moment where Maggie delivers a monologue about a best friend who’s now gone. But otherwise, this family’s past seems more akin to a black-and-white 1950’s sitcom than the quirky journey that’s promised.
Individuality is talked about—like David wearing a kilt to his grad in an act of anti-conformity—but we never see anything that betrays their sugary stock image. Even the simplicity of the characters’ “names”—Mum, Dad, Boy, and Girl— lacks distinctiveness that speaks to the show as a whole. The acting, particularly the children’s, is sincere and likeable, but the material only allows for so much depth. The show’s saving grace is that you can tell they are enjoying themselves onstage, and the comfort they share with each other is palpable.
This is the kind of middle class family you’d likely want to be apart of but might not want to watch. Perhaps it’s a sign of the times, where entertainment is less traditional and more complex, but the plot lacks some necessary colour.
THE BOTTOM LINE
All These People Watching keeps it in the family and close to the heart with its saccharine autobiographical subject matter.
4 Small Actors with Big Parts
Victoria Fringe Festival
Venue 5 (Langham Court Theatre)
- Aug 27 @ 4:15pm
- Aug 28 @ 6:30pm
- Sept 3 @ 4:15pm