SOMETHING HAPPENED TO BUTCH AND FRITZ by Dave Backus and Graham Vogt. Artword Alternative (75 Portland). To March 16. See listings, this page. 416-532-4283. Rating: NNN
Something happened to Butch And Fritz, the title of Dave Backus's and Graham Vogt's latest play, is a bit of a tease. We never quite find out what that something is, but the journey is entertaining enough, if overly long.
The two play moustached, track-suited friends stuck in a narrative limbo where they discuss things like tooth whiteners and the sounds that fridges make. Anti-consumerist rant? Maybe. Let's keep watching.
Gradually, as an unnamed third person (Cecilia Jordan) quietly enters the stark landscape of a few coloured boxes, we begin piecing together possible explanations, which include someone's death and a whole lot of denial.
Slightly precious (do they really need to break into song?), the show feels at times like a theatrical exercise that's carried on for too long. It could easily be a third shorter.
There are also some missing links in the script. A funky bass beat that gets the two friends grooving goes nowhere. And an image of a holdup is conjured twice in the first half, then oddly discarded.
But the actors and writers (no director is credited) create dramatic tension in this dreamlike world, and there's a strong sense of physicality to the show.
Vogt's anxious, controlling Fritz contrasts well with Backus's wide-eyed naif who slowly learns the truth, while Jordan has a calming, slightly sinister quality that adds weight and balance to the friends' journey.