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culture

Toronto Fringe Festival 2012 Reviews: Sunday, July 8

Another bumper crop of Fringe reviews from this weekend, including two new five-star shows.

Photo by {a href=”https://secure.flickr.com/photos/by_pui/7518021256/”}PLTam{/a} from the {a href=”http://www.flickr.com/groups/torontoist/”}Torontoist Flickr Pool{/a}.

Our contributors filled their weekend with Toronto Fringe Festival performances, trying to see as many of the most buzzed-about shows as possible. We reviewed eight shows on Friday and nine shows on Saturday—and here’s another nine shows we saw on Sunday.

With Love and a Major Organ
QuestionMark-Exclamation Theatre

Julia Lederer and Martha Ross. Photo by Peter Bevan.

PERFORMANCES:
Thursday, July 5, 6 p.m.
Saturday, July 7, 1:30 p.m.
Sunday, July 8, 8 p.m.
Monday, July 9, 7:30 p.m.
Wednesday, July 11, 8:15 p.m.
Thursday, July 12, 1 p.m.
Friday, July 13, 3:30 p.m.
Saturday, July 14, 4:30 p.m.

VENUE:
Theatre Passe Muraille Backspace (16 Ryerson Avenue)

This delightfully absurd story about a “boy with a paper heart, conceived by two broken-hearted people,” who ends up running away with the (literal) heart of a fanciful girl he shares several subway stops with each morning is poetic, playful, and wholly original. Playwright Julia Lederer, as the passionate subway rider who gives her heart away, has many of the best lines in the endlessly quotable show: quotes like “Just plant flowers in my gut” and “I’m just spouting leftover words, like sour milk” will embed themselves in your head. Her fellow players—Robin Archer as the heart stealer who learns to feel with the purloined organ, and Martha Ross as the boy’s lonely and internet advice–taking mother—give equally memorable performances. But it’s Lederer’s lyrical flights of fancy that are the revelation here. All of the show’s advance tickets have already sold out, but this one’s worth lining up for hours to see—trust us.

(Steve Fisher)

[ZED.TO] ByoLogyc: Where You Become New
The Mission Business

Graphic by Trevor Haldenby.

PERFORMANCES:
Wednesday, July 4, 7:30 p.m.
Thursday July 5, 7:30 p.m.
Friday July 6, 6:30 p.m.
Saturday July 7, 7:30 p.m.
Sunday July 8, 7:30 p.m.
Monday, July 9, 7:30 p.m.
Tuesday, July 10, 7:30 p.m.
Wednesday, July 11, 7:30 p.m.
Thursday, July 12, 7:30 p.m.
Friday, July 13, 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, July 14, 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, July 15, 7:30 p.m.

VENUE:
The Annex Wreckroom (794 Bathurst Street)

ByoLogyc is not your standard Fringe show. It’s not even a show by most conventional definitions. Instead, it is the opening salvo in a wide-scale interactive-narrative adventure set to run over the next eight months as parts of several arts festivals, as well as through social media. Sound complicated? It is, but it’s also crafted with obvious talent and energy, and if you’re willing to match even a fraction of said energy it promises to be a very fulfilling experience.

The events that make up ZED.TO will follow an apocalypse-level event in Toronto, with ByoLogyc setting the stage. This takes the form of a launch party for the titular biotech company‘s new designer drug, populated by the corporate senior staff and a team of new interns (i.e., the audience). The interactive, mobile format is similar to a murder mystery, where the audience members must collect what information and office gossip they can between speeches and team-building exercises. The ZED.TO team prove themselves to be capable innovators in this intricate scenario, though sharing information with your fellow interns is crucial. The party’s climax is only the beginning, setting things up for big events to come.

If you’re willing to take the plunge, we highly recommend taking a look at the extensive online material beforehand, and even signing up for the VIP Internship Program. Don’t be overwhelmed—just grab a drink, keep your ears open, and hang out next to someone chatty.

(Ryan West)

Tony Ho’s Sad People
Tony Ho

Photo courtesy of Tony Ho.

PERFORMANCES:
Thursday, July 5, 6:30 p.m.
Sunday, July 8, 6:15 p.m.
Monday, July 9, 4:45 p.m.
Wednesday, July 11, 9:45 p.m.
Thursday, July 12, 1 p.m.
Friday, July 13, 11:30 p.m.
Saturday, July 14, 1:45 p.m.

VENUE:
The Robert Gill Theatre (214 College Street)

A collection of sketches and monologues from local black-comedy kings Tony Ho and assorted friends, Sad People is equal parts hilarious and disturbing. Featuring everything from terrible paintings brought to life to a father-son reunion ruined by temporal disturbance, Sad People mocks the frailty of the human condition and will leave you alternately laughing and squirming, in the best way possible.

(Chris Dart)

Tick
Lallygag Theatre

Jessica Moss. Detail of a photo by Max Telzerov.

PERFORMANCES:
Thursday, July 5, 8:15 p.m.
Sunday, July 8, 7:30 p.m.
Monday, July 9, 2 p.m.
Wednesday, July 11, 2:15 p.m.
Thursday, July 12, 4 p.m.
Friday, July 13, 8:30 p.m.
Saturday, July 14, 5:45 p.m.

VENUE:
George Ignatieff Theatre (15 Devonshire Place)

The manic, hyperactive energy of 10-year-olds is perfectly captured in Tick. Apart from some key reflective moments, the characters never seem to stop moving as the cast taps into the excitable nature of preteens whose imaginations have gone into overdrive (though they could have cut down on at least one dance sequence toward the end). Viewing proposed budget cuts to cultural resources like libraries through their eyes points to how short-sighted such exercises are—portions will resonate with those familiar with recent Toronto politics. The script also leaves a lesson about not crossing that fine line between enthusiasm for a cause and zealousness that can make activists behave as badly as those they are fighting.

(Jamie Bradburn)

The Shape of Things
Lone Pine

Photo courtesy of Lone Pine.

PERFORMANCES:
Friday, July 6, 9:15 p.m.
Saturday, July 7, 12:30 p.m.
Sunday, July 8, 7:30 p.m.
Tuesday, July 10, 6:45 p.m.
Wednesday, July 11, 4:15 p.m.
Friday, July 13, 6:15 p.m.
Sunday, July 15, 1 p.m.

VENUE:
St. Vlad’s Theatre (620 Spadina Avenue)

A love story of a very different sort, Neil Labute’s play tells the tale of Adam, an introverted student working at a museum whose life is turned upside down one day after a meeting with the free-spirited Evelyn. She’s a brash, opinionated art major and sees in Adam, despite his rough edges, enough potential to enter into a relationship. Meanwhile, his friends Jenny and Phillip are planning an underwater marriage as an expression of their own love. (Some may remember Labute’s film adaptation starring Paul Rudd and Rachel Weisz.)

The production does the material exquisite justice, with all of the actors finding the right dramatic notes while mining the laughs hidden within the rather misanthropic study of human nature. Jennifer Neales exudes the quirky, magnetic energy required to subtly prod Christian Smith’s Adam into an awkwardly amusing transformation from ugly duckling to handsome swan. The supporting cast shines, too, providing a necessary counterpoint to the main plot. And everything hurtles towards a climax that seems all but inevitable in retrospect, but still packs a wallop.

(Kevin Scott)

Fake News Fangirl
Third Beat Productions

Sharilyn Johnson. Photo courtesy of Third Beat Productions.

PERFORMANCES:
Thursday, July 5, 9:30 p.m.
Saturday, July 7, 3:15 p.m.
Sunday, July 8, 2:45 p.m.
Monday, July 9, 5:45 p.m.
Wednesday, July 11, 6:30 p.m.
Thursday, July 12, 4:30 p.m.
Friday, July 13, 10:30 p.m.
Saturday, July 14, 8 p.m.

VENUE:
Theatre Passe Muraille Backspace (16 Ryerson Avenue)

Ladies and gentlemen, meet the world’s dullest fan=fiction writer! Or at least that’s the impression uber–Daily Show fan Sharilyn Johnson develops of her work, where she figures out her views on comedy via the mouths of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert instead of following the usual fan-fic path of…well, we can’t print that in a family publication. This solo show thoughtfully looks at the nature of fan-celebrity relationships through Johnson’s obsession with the fake-news pundits, along with the critical role comedy has played in her life. The engaging piece gains deeper emotional resonances as it moves forward, building to a contemplative conclusion.

(Jamie Bradburn)

buffering…
jamsammy

Photo by Kaela Greenstein.

PERFORMANCES:
Friday, July 6, 9:15 p.m.
Saturday, July 7, 4 p.m.
Sunday, July 8, 5:45 p.m.
Tuesday, July 10, 1 p.m.
Wednesday, July 11, 11:15 p.m.
Friday, July 13, 9:45 p.m.
Sunday, July 15, 2:45 p.m.

VENUE:
Theatre Passe Muraille Mainspace (16 Ryerson Avenue)

It’s not the Fringe without a few postmodern, deconstructionist fairy tales, and buffering… is one of this year’s offerings. The whip-smart script from Amy Cunningham and Shauna Wootton presents a fairy-tale kingdom with an expansive online presence, where princesses meet their princes on eHarmony, witches cast spells on blogs, and bridges are guarded by horrific meme trolls. The residents of this faraway land are beset by a new plight: their prince has sold the rights to their fairy-tale tropes, and now they can’t live their stories—or even rhyme—without incurring hefty fees.

Although the script shows great potential, the performance suffers from a painful lack of rhythm, which can be particularly crippling when half of it is in verse. A.J. Vaage saves what he can as the Fool (and the land’s CFO), but his surgically precise comic timing can’t carry everything.

(Ryan West)

A Madhouse Dramedy
Stage Mage

Image courtesy of Stage Mage Productions.

PERFORMANCES:
Wednesday, July 4, 7 p.m.
Sunday, July 8, 11 p.m.
Monday, July 9, 4:45 p.m.
Wednesday, July 11, 9:30 p.m.
Thursday, July 12, 12 p.m.
Friday, July 13, 8 p.m.
Saturday, July 14, 1:45 p.m.

VENUE:
St. Vladimir’s Theatre (620 Spadina Avenue)

Filled with great physical comedy and a ton of jokes about necrophilia, A Madhouse Dramedy has a lot to recommend it. Unfortunately, it’s held back by a couple of fairly major flaws. It makes sense to have an easy device to separate the sane from less-than-sane in a play about madness, but having characters speak in almost Seussian word salads gets grating after about five minutes. Between that and an excruciatingly slow start, a play that had the potential to be awesome winds up being merely alright.

(Chris Dart)

Mum and the Big C
Singing Strong

Photo courtesy of Singing Strong.

PERFORMANCES:
Wednesday, July 4, 8:45 p.m.
Saturday, July 7, Noon
Sunday, July 8, 8:45 p.m.
Monday, July 9, 3 p.m.
Wednesday, July 11, 11 p.m.
Friday, July 13, 1:45 p.m.
Saturday, July 14, 9:15 p.m.

VENUE:
Randolph Theatre (736 Bathurst Street)

Mum and the Big C is a story about a lesbian playgirl named Ripley, played by local comic stalwart Elvria Kurt, who is forced to return to the suburbs to take care of her highly opinionated, cancer-stricken mother. While serving her time in exile, Ripley winds up falling for foxy soccer mom Maddie, who, as fate would have it, is also her mother’s oncologist. If this sound familiar to you, it should. If you remove the lesbian twist, the plot is more or less the same as any one of a dozen or so romantic comedies released in the last decade. The incorrigible cad discovers that he, or, in this case, she, is capable of love after undergoing a life-changing event and meeting the perfect woman in less-than-perfect circumstances.

It’s not that the play doesn’t have redeeming features. Kurt is charmingly dickish as Ripley, and Janet-Laine Green is hilarious as her mother. Unfortunately, the whole thing just seems too easy.

(Chris Dart)

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