Toronto Fringe 2007 - The Africans; and Bus Stop Boogie
Hey, y'all, how's it fringing?
I mean, you are going to the Fringe, right? Trust me, the whole thing is just way too much fun to miss, especially when the fun is this affordable. You should not need further convincing, but in case you do, here is an extra incentive: you can recoup some of your Fringe ticket costs by trading your ticket stub for special deals and discounts at a number of Annex businesses . So if you have seen some plays already, I hope you haven't emptied your recycle bin yet.
Below are reviews for The Africans and Bus Stop Boogie.
The Africans - Factory Theatre Mainspace
A white Toronto couple is hosting a black Mozambique couple for the duration of an AIDS conference. In addition to the cultural barrier there is a linguistic one: the guests speak only the most rudimentary English, while the hosts' knowledge of Portuguese - the guests' native language - is limited by knowing how to wish someone a merry Christmas. Sounds like a premise upon which an entertaining and enlightening play could be built. Unfortunately, I found "The Africans" to be neither. The action in the play is meant to span several days, but as far as character development is concerned, it could just as easily have been several minutes. We don't get to know any of the characters any better, nor do they get to know each other: the interactions between the two couples never move beyond the stage of the initial awkwardness. That, at least, could have been funny, and it was in places - but a handful of giggle-inducing moments is not enough to justify going to this play.
Bus Stop Boogie - Tarragon Theatre Mainspace
The most important thing a comedy should be is funny, and I assure you that this one is. As a matter of fact, it is absolutely side-splitting. Nearly all of its jokes revolve around sex (who would've thought that six strangers meeting at a bus stop would engage in an animated discussion of their sexual lives!), but it is done with such style and grace, that this production by the Starfire Theatre from Welland, ON manages to remain surprisingly tasteful and non-offensive. If I started retelling the plot and the jokes here, you would've said that the show was a mix of disgusting off-colour crudeness and cheesy sentimentality, but in some completely inexplicable fashion it isn't in the slightest. Perhaps it's because the characters are so human and likeable, despite the almost non-stop (and absolutely hilarious!) bickering. I still wouldn't bring a 10-year-old along to watch this production, but I wholeheartedly recommend it to everyone over 16 (as did the rest of the audience, if you take frequent bursts of laughter and loud applause as signs of approval).
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