For Hamilton Fringe Festival 2021, Impetus Theatre presents a solo show by Kit Simmons, The Audition. Taking the form of a Zoom audition, Simmons desperately tries to impress without being the least bit prepared. Neurotic shenanigans ensue.
This always feels on the verge of becoming tedious yet somehow it never does. If it was much longer, it might have, but Simmons and dramaturg Rob Kempson keep it short and craft her awkward ramblings into a compelling form that always surprises you.
Not having a set monologue for this audition, Simmons owns the space to jump from one quirky to topic to another, explaining why she isn’t prepared. Along the way, she comments on actor specific aspects of the industry—like the bizarre
I love that she brings up Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar during an audition for some mediocre musical. (Side note: Esther Greenwood is a more compelling protagonist than her INSUFFERABLE male-counterpart Holden Caulfield in The Catcher in the Rye: This is the hill I will die on.) I also love that “shitty choices” and “let everyone hate you” become weirdly empowering mantras.
One of my favourite bits is a mimed recreation of her “writing process,” complete with musical score! It’s some classic Looney Toons schtick and I am here for it. Her portrait of a pretentious performance installation is niche comedy gold. And I legit laughed out loud at “I will not be getting COVID for a musical about craft breweries.”
At first, it bugged me that nobody interrupts her during the 17 minutes she takes for her scheduled 5 minute audition. Ultimately, though, this framing device isn’t all that important except to establish context and cringe factor. Also, there is a cumulative effect to the absurdity of just how long they let her struggle.
The Audition is a sweet, consistently funny piece. And the abrupt, downbeat ending has an unexpectedly emotional punch.