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Fringe Review: Rideshares & Rope Swings

By David Currie on June 24, 2016

60 minutes | Comedy, Drama | PG

I’ve got to be honest, I was excited for this show. But when I got there, my excitement totally paid off. Hah! Classic misdirect!

Rideshares and Rope Swings is an absolutely astonishing comedy about life and death featuring the terrific pairing of Zoe Towne and Matt Hertendy. Matt is also responsible for the script, at the heart of which is a question, “Are you fantasizing or are you dwelling?” I’ve been pondering a variation of this question for the past few months, so admittedly, this show did a lot for me. But I suspect everyone ponders this occasionally, we place so much on living in the moment (as does Zoe’s character) that we forget that so much of our lives is either regretting something or dreaming of something different, hopefully something better.

Rideshares and Rope Swings is about a journey strangers Reid and Jen take to Thunder Bay – conversation between the two is easy but total honesty takes a lot for both of them. They both have secret reasons for taking the journey and both deflect through comedy.

Attention Ottawa Theatre goers, attention, attention must be paid to Matthew Venner’s directing that is both elegant and efficient. The show uses its tools beautifully. The stage is perfectly mapped out, symbolizing both closeness and distance in unusual and surprising ways. There are only two major props (three in total) and they are chairs. These chairs owned the stage, they became putty in the hands of Matt and Zoe. I did not know, nor would I have believed, that chairs could be so captivating.

While Matt’s character “Reid” grows in terms of experience, Zoe’s “Jenn” is the one who shows emotional growth. In the beginning she is Zen Jenn just trying to live he life while deflecting her future through jokes, and then after a trauma, Jenn is broken down and reconstituted as a person who suffers.

The script for Rideshares and Rope Swings is a brilliant work; well balanced, and sincere. Matt’s honest writing explores what is inbetween intimacy and death. The jokes land, the drama pushes the audience further and further into the theme. The play is simply a delight to watch.

An hour of excellence on stage at Ottawa Fringe.

Rideshares & Rope Swings is on at Studio Léonard-Beaulne Friday, June 24 at 10 p.m., and Sunday, June 26 at 6:30 p.m.

Tickets are $12.