fringe festival

The top 10 shows at the 2015 Toronto Fringe Festival

This year's Toronto Fringe Festival offers a heavy dose of comedy and storytelling inspired shows. From July 1 to July 12 the theatre district in the city will be buzzing with eager thespians in search of an audience. The lineup this year is chock full of shows starring, written or directed by kick-ass women so make sure to see at least a few shows.

As always, the best way to Fringe is to take a chance on a new act and expect the unexpected. For the full monty head to the Fringe Club behind Honest Ed's and check out pop-up shows, musical acts and food and a drink with the cast. Theatre doesn't pay much, so forget the flowers and buy your favourite star a few rounds.

Here, in no particular order, are my picks for the top shows at this year's Toronto Fringe Festival.

Morro and Jasp do Puberty
If you're looking for a sure thing this play by the Dora and Canadian Comedy Award winning duo Heather Marie Annis and Amy Lee is for you. Morro and Jasp Toronto's favourite clown-sister act have remounted their 2010 hit, a coming of age story about raging hormones, mishaps with feminine hygiene products and the need for loud punk rock. Be prepared to laugh right out of your seat.

A Nurse's Worst Nightmare
Zabrina Chevannes' A Nurse's Worst Nightmare is a hilarious and insightful look at the life of a comedian, nurse and mother of two. This solo show will take you on a journey through her childhood in a Jamaican family to her dark days battling mental illness. Chevannes raw brand of comedy about working in nursing homes and a near death experience will make you think while you laugh.

Life Records
If your life had a soundtrack what records would make the cut? Rhiannon Archer's Life Records attempts to answer this question in this comical, heartwarming and honest solo show about the songs that make their ways into our lives and haunt our memories. The show is an amalgamation of true stories and the songs that bring them to life. Think of it as High Fidelity if John Cusack was a smart and sassy girl.

Anatolia Speaks
Anatolia Speaks is a meticulously crafted show performed as a speech to an ESL class. Candice Fiorentino illustrates the everyday moments in the life of a new immigrant through an amalgamation of small details about her life as a grocery clerk at the Superstore.

A man walks into a bar
A man walks into a bar and asks a waitress for a drink is a sexist joke that unfolds into a tense and funny look at gender dynamics. The show blurs the lines between the performers and the characters creating a standoff about gender, power and selling sex. Playwright Rachel Blair is a Fringe favourite, having previously won the Best of Fringe's and Patron Pick for Wake.

Adventures Of A Redheaded Coffeeshop Girl
Rebecca Perry made a huge splash with her 2013 play Confessions of a Redheaded Coffeeshop Girl now has a sequel of sorts. This time our heroine is out of the coffee shop and into the jungle as she embarks on an adventure in pursuit of her dream job as an anthropologist with The Jane Goodall Institute.

In Case we Disappear
We tell our stories so someone remembers us. In this lyrical piece that's part comedy, part poetry and part music we eavesdrop on the intimate conversation of two siblings. What starts as a ploy to put her baby brother to sleep, becomes a confessional of the embarrassing and kooky stories that define us.

Caws & Effect
It's all lights and magic as crows re-dream the world in this large scale shadow theatre from a bird's eye view. Chloé Ziner and Jessica Gabriel have been developing a multi-layered style of visual storytelling using overhead projectors as their main light source. Their work is beautiful and unique, with handmade layered projections, puppetry, masks, and an original musical score.

The Untitled Sam S. Mullins Project
Sam Mullins tells stories, the kind that get featured on The Moth, This American Life and The Irrelevant Show. In this show the Canadian-Comedy-Award-Winner and Fringe veteran tells the four stories of his four "truths."

You're stuck in a dead-end job but plagued by visions of grandeur. Graham Isador's Served is a play about ambition, entitlement, and walking food to ungrateful customers. The play is co-directed by Tom Arthur Davis who won Best of Fringe for his work on Mahmoud. Watch for funny girl Jillian Welsh and En Lai Mah known for his incredibly physical performances.

What did I miss? Add your suggestions for the shows to watch at Toronto Fringe 2015 in the comments.

Follow Sima Sahar Zerehi on Twitter @SimaSaharZerehi.

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