Fringe review: Penny serves up empty calories

Penny. Photo by Lyon Smith.
Penny. Photo by Lyon Smith.

Penny Adams is celebrating her 10th anniversary and the 100th episode of her home improvement and cooking show “Penny’s Household Projects.” Aided by an appropriately flustered Production Assistant Robin (Ethan Palliser-Nicholas), Penny attempts to make a lemon meringue pie as she descends into darkness in front of the audience’s eyes.

Beneath the perfectly applied lipstick and an A-line dress though, Penny has a secret. Unfortunately, it takes about 35 minutes to get to that secret and before you know it the lights are up and the show is over.

Playwright and actor Rebecca Wolfe is appropriately charming as Penny. A cheerfully demented Martha Stewart-type, she gives “helpful” hints on how to not only get a man but keep him.

Switching back and forth between a wide-eyed housewife and abused woman Wolfe does a lot with her eyes, conveying a gamut of emotions particularly during a flashback scene towards the end of the play.

Sadly, anyone looking for a substantive discussion on the darker side of domestic bliss is likely to be left wanting more. To say the ending is abrupt would be an understatement. While intriguing (no spoilers here) it left several audience members scratching their heads.

The script is a slow burn, sound effects pop in throughout to give an ominous feeling that something is not right with our host, but with no real pay off Penny serves up little more than empty calories.

Penny continues at the Neptune Imperial Theatre (1593 Argyle St, Halifax) as part of the Halifax Fringe Festival. Visit halifaxfringe.ca for tickets and information.