A MOBILE THRILLER (UK) by Renato Gabrielli, translated by Maggie Rose, directed by Carrie Cracknell, with Francis Lee. Presented by Hush Productions in association with Richard Jordan. Hangar 7, York Quay Centre (235 Queens Quay West, second floor). Runs through April 24, Tuesday-Sunday 8 and 9:30 pm. Rating: NNNNN
Site-specific theatre really takes to the road in A Mobile Thriller, in which a harried and disillusioned businessman sorts out his myriad affairs while being chauffeured around Toronto in a Lincoln Town Car.
The kicker? An audience of three is in the back seat.
This adaptation of an original Italian short story premiered at last summer's Edinburgh Fringe and became the fastest sellout in its history. It later played London, with Francis Lee in the businessman's role.
Lee has a background in theatre, film and TV - he's appeared in the West End and in the films Topsy-Turvy and Me Without You - but he's never worked with the audience in such close proximity.
"It feels real, small and filmic in some ways," says Lee on the phone from England, "but because a live audience is right behind me, I have to be aware of performing for them, pulling them in rather than using the camera. I adjust the vanity mirror down so they can see my eyes, or turn around to look through the rear window."
Every production is customized to a specific city, but even so things can go wrong. Lee remembers one London evening when, despite "an absolutely watertight traffic plan, we got to a Thames bridge and found it closed.
"I told the driver to go to a driving circle, got out and smoked a cigarette and called the director for a quick revision of the route. That show took an extra 40 minutes, and the audience had no idea at all."
Have passengers ever kicked up a fuss?
"Just one," laughs the actor. "In Edinburgh, the vehicle was an Audi A8. One guy complained because the ads said the car would be a Maserati."
This year's World Stage festival proves that one isn't the loneliest number. Subtitled Flying Solo, it features more than 20 one-person productions from around the globe. For the first time ever, the whole fest takes place at a single locale - Harbourfront Centre. And you can’t beat the $25-or-less ticket price. Here’s NOW’s spotlight on some of the best of the fest.
The World Stage Flying Solo festival, a three-week international theatre, visual arts and literary fest presented by Harbourfront Centre at various venues on Queens Quay West. (See NOW's related listings sections for specific events.) Runs to May 1. Mainstage shows $25; Kafka And Son $15; International readings $8; some events free. 416-973-4000, www.harbourfrontcentre.com/worldstage.