The 2014 Canadian Film Fest: Play – The Film (Alec Toller)

Screening today at the Royal Theatre at 4:15pm is this short, but hugely entertaining and frequently hilarious feature directed by Alec Toller with one of our show’s recent guest, Orphan Black’s Kristian Bruun in a starring role as well as serving as the film’s producer.

Bruun plays Alec Hess, an ‘ahem’ visionary film director who is bring his ‘talents’ to a stage play that is a quasi-political and social commentary. Or at least that’s what he says.

His cast is filled with a variety of actors, an up and coming film star, Russell Wright (Roger Bainbridge), the play’s original writers Ryan Campbell (Danny Pagett) and hot-head partner Andy (Tim Walker), a 14-year-old girl, Caroline (Gwenlyn Cumyn), a has-been stage name, Stanley Heath (Peter Higginson), a method actor, Vanessa Pike (Kelly McCormack – who also served as the film’s writer), who can’t let go of her craft and an actor Doug (Robb Wiggin), who is terrible at improvising unless it’s juvenile humor.

Play-The-Film-Poster-Feb-12_smaWith some big media in attendance, Hess is positive of rave reviews and that everyone will recognize his talent, but when a misplaced, and essential prop is misplaced, and an actor refuses to play out his death scene as a consequence, the performance goes quickly off the rails and is on the verge of descending into chaos as the entire cast scrambles to improvise a new plot and resolution, and still hold the audience’s attention.

The film is filled with brilliant pieces, but the one that got me the most was when Russell goes method for his role in the second half of the play, and he and Vanessa have dueling method actors off stage.

Kristian talked with Sue Maynard and I about the film, you can check it out here. He spoke about it being a low-budget indie film, but much like the play itself, it forced the creative team to be imaginative and it showcases the fun that must have been present on set for some of those sequences, because there are some good ones – like the continued attempts to kill off Andy’s stage character Ira throughout the play in a desperate attempt to get it back on track.

For anyone who’s ever spent time on stage, and have seen things go sideways, this one will ring a lot of bells for you, and maybe recall the beauty of the stage magic that made it all work out ni the end, even if it wasn’t the way that was intended.

Check out its screening today!!


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