Fringe 2008 - Day 7

Not even a torrential downpour could stop Tuesday's Fringe festivities. It almost stopped me, but I persevered and saw some quality theatre in soaking wet shorts. Remember, Fringers- only five days left in the 2008 Toronto Fringe. Get out there and see some shows. But bring an umbrella. Or a raft.

Continue reading for reviews of The Barbecue King, Telegrams from the new Canadian cinema, The Tricky Part, Acis and Galatea, Teaching the Fringe, Trust, A Girl Named Ralph, and The Further Adventures of Antoine Feval.

The Barbecue King
(Reviewed by Graeme Stewart)

This lighthearted musical takes a look at the oldest of all male compulsions- cooking meat over fire. With some snappy musical numbers and surprisingly slick performances, The Barbecue King delivers some genuine laughs. You usually see the gags coming from about ten miles away, but everyone is having such a good time you don't really care. Hannah Miller deserves special mention for a breakout performance as the hapless vegetarian daughter of the titular monarch.

The Barbecue King plays July 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 at the Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre. For more info, check out the Toronto Fringe Website.

Telegrams From The New Canadian Cinema
(reviewed by Robin Sharp)

This show is an interesting concept for the Fringe; short films by young Canadian directors, with a few comic sketches and monologues shuffled in between.

Unfortunately the live theatrical component seemed like an afterthought. It's largely the filmmakers themselves attempting to do comedy between their films. I don't have to point out that film directing and acting on stage are two very different things; you don't hire a gravedigger to pilot your airplane. The worst bit was when one of the monologues gave away a slew of jokes from the movie that followed it.

As for the films themselves, they change the line-up every night. Each audience gets something different. "Searching for Heartbreak", a twelve minute piece by Nicholas Martin, was revelatory. One of the best Canadian shorts I've seen in a long time.

On the other hand, this group also decided to play "Lucy James: Part 1", a lavish, self-congratulatory, forty-two minute mess. It features about eleven main characters, several of them played by the filmmakers themselves. The first ten minutes is set at a large wedding reception; the next thirty-two minutes follows the characters as they flail around the corridors of a hotel, muttering convoluted dialogue and mugging for the camera. (The film synopsis in the program tells me they were playing 'hide-and-seek'.)

If you go to see this on a night they don't play "Lucy James: Part 1", I'd recommend checking it out. If you go on a night they do play it, you're on your own.

Telegrams From The New Canadian Cinema is playing at the Tarragon Extra Space July 9, 11, 12. For more info see the Toronto Fringe website.

The Tricky Part
(Reviewed by Roger Cullman)

Perhaps the most serious play you'll see at this year's Fringe is The Tricky Part, a one-man play about a boy's story of sexual trespass and a man's journey to forgiveness.

Superbly acted by South African Peter Hayes, this 90-minute story by Martin Moran takes the audience into a journey into the memory of a man who grows up haunted by what happened to him between 12 and 15 at a Catholic boys' camp.

The resulting story, now also a book, explores the complexities of sexuality, spirituality and the mystery of the human experience. The show takes a little too long to get to the crux of the matter, but observing Hayes embody the character with all his soul is a transformative experience nevertheless. In the end, it begs the question, "Is it possible that what harms us might come to restore us?"

The Tricky Part plays July 10, 12 at the Factory Theatre Studio. For more info, check out the Toronto Fringe Website.

Acis and Galatea
(Reviewed by Graeme Stewart)

Opera at the Fringe? Sure, why not. I'll be the first to admit that I don't really "get" Opera (I briefly considered suicide about two-thirds through Siegfried), but this little masque is pretty easy to digest. It's shorter than your standard opera (and much, much shorter than Siegfried), and features some gorgeous instrumental and vocal performances.

It's a good thing the music is so excellent- there is precious little going on in this production, which I suppose is rather the point. Less clutter means more focus on the dynamo voices. Even so, the accompanying projections were distracting and, frankly, a little weird. And not good weird. Just weird weird.

Acis and Galatea plays July 10, 12 at the Factory Theatre Mainspace. For more info, check out the Toronto Fringe website.

Teaching the Fringe
(reviewed by Megan Mooney)

What's the best way to deal with criticism? Why, write a show about it of course! At least that was Keir Cutler's approach, and it works. This is Cutler's first autobiographical show, and it's pulled off with finesse. Normally Cutler would be playing himself, but in this case, since Cutler was called away to Montreal to be a zombie, he was played by Barry Smith.

The switcheroo works. I'd love to see the show performed by Cutler, but there wasn't a single moment where I wished he was there instead of Smith. An interesting aspect is that, although the show has the feel of a one-man show, technically it wasn't. Sharing the stage with Smith was Darla Biccum, who was there to voice the words of people Cutler was talking about. Both Smith and Biccum deliver stellar performances in this piece, I highly recommend checking it out.

Teaching the Fringe is playing at the Glen Morris Theatre Theatre July 9, 10, 12. For more info see the Toronto Fringe website.

(reviewed by Tatiana Kachira)

When a strange terrified woman appears at a man's door step on a dark and stormy night, the audience is immediately gripped by their emotionally charged interaction. The intrigue is set up well, and keeps you on the edge of your seat for a while.

However, as the show progresses, things become more obvious, and by the end of the play you feel that the story has been told too bluntly and straightforwardly to be truly moving or fascinating.

Good acting by Kerry Ann Doherty and Wayne Ward, but the plays lacks a certain something that separates great shows from the so-so ones.

Trust is playing at the Robert Gill Theatre July 9, 10, 11, 13. For more info, check out the Toronto Fringe website.

A Girl Named Ralph
(reviewed by Megan Mooney)

This is a great show. The first great thing is that, unlike many Fringe shows, which feel like they could use some judicious editing, this one was over too quickly. I wanted more, and hopefully Raffaella Diana will continue to work on expanding the piece and bring it back to Toronto at some point.

The show gave the audience a glimpse into an Italian-Canadian family. It was interesting, funny and a pleasure to watch. My only complaint was the transitions, the amount of time between scenes, where the lights were down, broke up the flow of the piece. Well, that, and the fact that I wanted it to be longer, the 35 minutes flew by. But I'd rather be left wanting more than sit there checking my watch hoping for it to be over.

A Girl Named Ralph is playing at the Robert Gill Theatre July 9, 10, 11, 12. For more info see the Toronto Fringe website.

The Further Adventures of Antoine Feval
(reviewed by Tatiana Kachira)

After I nearly hurt myself laughing at Chris Gibbs' Gibberish last Fringe, I knew I wanted to see The Further Adventures as soon as it appeared in the show schedule as a last-minute replacement of the cancelled Affidavit. And to my utter delight, Gibbs has done it again!

Helen Gardiner Phelan Playhouse was barely a quarter full at this late night performance, but the few who came to the show did not regret it. Gibbs possesses this remarkable ability to just keep they audience laughing the whole time of the performance: by the time you are done laughing at one thing, the next funny thing has already arrived, so you figure you figure you might as well keep your original laugh going. Strongly recommended.

The Further Adventures of Antoine Feval is playing at the Helen Gardiner Phelan Playhouse July 9, 10, 11, 13. For more info, check out the Toronto Fringe website.

Photo: David Fraser is the BBQ King.

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