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Toronto Fringe – Final Exam

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Final exam, written by Eric Petersen, and directed by Gillian Armstrong, is a sci-fi play reminiscent of a bottle episode from the older days of The Twilight Zone or Outer Limits. We find ourselves in a classroom and learn that it’s 2050 and that the world has made contact with “The Visitors” as they are called here. The Visitors have come and promised to uplift humanity under the condition that the whole of humanity becomes a collective intelligence like them. The teachers and the students in the classroom debate the merits and their fears of agreeing to become so interconnected. This comes to a halt when a visitor shows up way ahead of schedule and intends to assimilate everyone there. We see a glimpse of the possible future once one of the students is made part of the collective; even with the connected knowledge of humanity at hand, the very human desire to know one another’s secrets is very prevalent.

36980953_1942963005754652_5539930087199080448_nBehind-the-scenes, the use of a multipurpose room in the Matty Eckler centre made for a perfect classroom. The teachers Mr. Miller and Ms. Renard (played by Phil Rickaby and Elizabeth Rose Morris) played well off each other as well as the students. The Students, Britney (Veronica Choi), Stephen (Sanjay Pavone), Colin (Brandon Schamerhorn), and Christine (Tahlia Zaloski) very much reminded me of people I went to high school with, which is to their credit. I believed these people as they went through the gamut of hope and fear of this upcoming joining. The Visitor (Kendall Petersen) was a harder sell for me. But coming in representing an entire hive mind is quite the task and the off-kilter air of The Visitor and his misuse of idiom had me laugh a couple times and unnerved the rest.

In the classic sci-fi style, the play is mainly an exploration of what it means to become a collective. the loss of individuality, the loss of privacy; of secrets being laid bare. And in its approximately 40 min run time, they certainly got me thinking about all of these things. The one thing I felt was under-explored was a better establishment of the play’s setting. It’s 2050 and apparently, with the arrival of The Visitors, the entirety of the world’s governments, save Australia, agreed to become a hive mind and the play doesn’t really question that. Only a few holdout cities and Australia have abstained and, unfortunately, I didn’t get how that was accomplished. And that was the thought that lingered most in my mind.

This play didn’t blow my mind but if you like some light sci-fi give this one a look. It was to the point, tightly paced, and well-performed.

Final Exam is playing out tonight and through the weekend. For details on date, time, and location, click right over HERE!