Presented by One Four One Collective
Michael Ross Albert hasn’t let me down yet. For his fifth Fringe play, he invites us into a surrealist urban dreamscape. Good Old Days is a whimsical portrait of a difficult friendship, set in a very familiar city in decline. Nobody names it, but I absolutely felt Toronto.
Late one night, Allison (Brianna Wright) lets herself into the apartment she used to share with Wendy (Cass Van Wyck). The tension is thick between these estranged former roommates and a fight quickly escalates, sending them both off into the eerily cold July night.
On their phantasmagorical odyssey through the city, Wright and Van Wyck play a variety of other parts. Each of the random strangers the two women encounter reveal echoes of themselves and each other. As they negotiate dream-logic obstacles in search of each other, their encounters gradually reveal insights into their past and current circumstances.
Albert weaves in unsettling reminders of our fractured, fraught world—acts of violence, a perpetually inaccessible network connection, the high cost of living and ominously irregular weather. Director Jill Harper’s production is deceptively simple. Onto stacks of cardboard boxes, designer Denyse Karn projects video imagery of city lights, wandering bodies and psychedelic swirls. A large glowing orb drifts through the space, a beacon of hope amidst sinister chaos.
I was particularly touched by a dark backstory with a dog, Cody. He’s a symbol, I imagine, for the anxiety that seems to be a permanent, defining fixture in our lives. And an acknowledgement of where we all, eventually, will end up.
The play is very much aware and stressed about the state of the world. It’s not optimistic, exactly, but fanciful—yearning for intimate connection while facing a dubious shared future. Can Alison and Wendy find some solace in each other? Can any of us make it through the dismal reality we’ve manufactured?
Well, I don’t know. But Good Old Days did lift my spirits. I fell in love with Allison, Wendy and the oddballs they met. They creeped me out, made me laugh and sent my imagination soaring.