Fringe 2008 - Day 8
Just four days left of Toronto's most eclectic theatre festival. To help guide you, here's a handful of fresh reviews of some of the shows.
Perhaps overlooked by many Fringe theatregoers, The Fringe Club at The Tranzac (292 Brunswick, just south of Bloor) offers some great free programming, with something different every night, including a special concert from Major Maker on Saturday night. If you missed them at NXNE last month, here's your chance to see 'em for a pay-what-you-can bargain price.
Last night featured a cabaret, 20 Tiny Pieces for 20 Years, which showed 20 three-minute pieces, which was wonderfully entertaining. What kind of a performance can you do in three minutes?
Continue reading for reviews of JEM ROLLS: how i stopped worrying and learnt to love the mall, Mating Rituals of the Urban Cougar, One-Woman Show and Sherlock Holmes & the First English Gentleman.
This show is frenetic. I've never seen a Jem Rolls show before, so I wasn't prepared for the intensity of energy coming at me from the stage. Rolls' words draw you in. The rhythm, the rhymes, the metaphors, it's like a rollercoaster that is always going full speed.
Rolls' poem are full of moral lessons, or at least they espouse his morals, but they are also filled with laughter, energy and poignancy. I was doubtful about this one when I first started watching it, but by the end of the show I was whooping and hollering at the top of my lungs while I clapped my hands raw.
Rolls' standing ovation from the full house was well deserved. If you're going to check this one out you should probably try to book your tickets in advance.
JEM ROLLS: how i stopped worrying and learnt to love the mall is playing at the Glen Morris Theatre July 10, 11 and 12. For more info see the Toronto Fringe website.
Sometimes poetry feels like music. Sometimes poetry is music. Andrea Thompson combines the two, sometimes singing bits of poetry, singing a whole poem or reciting to a lulling rhythm.
The performance mostly works with serious themes, although there were a few moments of laughter and the feeling was predominantly an autobiography of self-discovery. Not all around meditate for months of self-discovery, compartmentalized self-discovery.
Artists who let us take a peek into their life and soul have always impressed me. Thompson is no different. I was caught up in her words, but also in her movement, her look, her voice. Everything about her felt almost hypnotizing.
It's a piece well worth your time if you are a fan of poetry, even though the show played a bit long for my liking. I am coming to realize I'm a big believer in more is less.
While playing the role of Eileen, Marco Timpano does everything right. He does things the way we're taught as actors, but can be hard to pull off. He plays it straight. He doesn't mug for laughs, he is committed to the character and treats her with respect, which is why the audience can laugh instead of cringe.
It was a wonderful decision to avoid dressing Timpano in drag, having him put on a high voice and change his body language to something more feminine. Honestly I can't exactly say why, but to do so would have been offensive for me and certainly distracting.
As it was, I didn't find this show offensive at all. The audience loved it. This is absolutely a highly recommended piece. Check out one of the two remaining performances if you can. The audience was big for this one, so I'd suggest booking tickets in advance.
This is a show with potential, but it hasn't quite made it yet. There is something missing at this point. With a bit of polishing this could be a great piece.
A good start would be to cut things down a bit, including cutting the long chant that begins the show. And also the ending, which I felt superfluous. It felt like the show ended and then there was a second ending tacked on.
All of that said, the show had some wonderful fun moments, including a song-and-dance number led by Dr. Watson (Pete Treadwell). The actors seemed comfortable on stage and Treadwell did a wonderful job of switching between several characters without missing a beat.
It was also the first time I've seen anything portraying Sherlock Holmes on stage. I enjoyed the translation from the character in a book to the character in a play.
Photo by Roger Cullman.
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