Downtown Arts Centre 28 Rebecca Street
Kristin and I rounded off the weekend of tour stops by taking in another show at the Hamilton Fringe Festival, this time at the Downtown Arts Centre on Rebecca Street. I had never been to the Fringe Fest before and was excited to have the opportunity to check out the world premiere of the sci-fi play 59 Minutes In The Maxwell Suite.
Funny enough, we’d first heard about the play during the James Street North Art Crawl where we were given cards about the play. Upon initially reading the synopsis, I was intrigued and hoped we’d have a chance to check it out, as the Fringe Fest features a wide variety of genres ranging from from black comedy to spoken word. How neat then that we managed to catch it on the last evening of Fringe Fest. As the four of us have realized as we’ve toured around Hamilton, so many things are interconnected and at the end of the day, many things truly come full circle.
This original Canadian play follows the 59 minutes spent by Luton Maxwell (played by Jared Lenover), the inventor of the controversial Maxwell Patch who ‘is under Congressional investigation for ethics and human rights violations’ and Naomi Verne (played by Elaine Hale), actress and daughter of a presidential candiditate in, where else but his suite, the Maxwell Suite. Deemed Time Magazine’s most hated man on earth, Maxwell seeks refuge after learning that God’s Coalition, a suicide squad, has taken over his building with plans to blow it up, only to be interrupted by Naomi Verne. From that moment on, the stories of both these individuals, their complicated relationship, and how they have gotten to where they are today begins to unfold as the clock ticks on…
What an incredible play, well written, thought-provoking and stellar acting. There were a number of things which stood out to me, mainly how the play was interspersed with the commentary of a newscaster, known as The Commentator, who I commend for his performance. The little details weren’t forgotten, as we watched his lips continue to move even as the television had been muted. Played by Steve O’Brien, The Commentator provided information here and there into the identity of Luton Maxwell, God’s Coalition and the details surrounding this mysterious Maxwell Patch, a ‘psycho invasive, mind-augmenting’ patch allowing the identities of two individuals to merge into one being, the memories shared.
Props to Jared Lenover and Elaine Hale for their portayals of Luton and Naomi. Jared did a wonderful job of embodying Luton’s internal struggles, not only as an inventor and scientist, but as a human being and allowed Luton to become a character the audience loved to hate. While Luton initially comes off as arrogant and self-absorbed, you begin to understand how past events have affected the individual he has become today and the reason for his coldhearted, often jerkish nature. By the end, we are given a glimpse into his vulnerable side, something he will rarely show to others. From the moment Jared stepped onto the stage, he commanded the audience with his presence.
There was a simplicity and understated feeling to Elaine’s performance and she provided Naomi with mighty conviction as she began to uncover one mystery after the next surrounding her role in this whole ordeal. The emotion that was conveyed as Elaine swings from being calm and collected to panicked, to upset, questioning her love for Luton and most of all, deciding whether she is willing to make the ultimate sacrifice to ensure her survival, was very profound.
If anything, this play allows you to question and consider human nature and relationships, our interactions with one another and the role of technology in this, especially in this day and age where our society is being driven forward by technological advances. I encourage anyone who has the chance to see this play to check it out, you will not be disappointed. I am certain that 59 Minutes in The Maxwell Suite will continue to do incredibly well at upcoming theatre festivals and trust me when I say that this 59 minutes is time well spent.