Worksin' Hard or Hardly Worksin'
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Worksin’ Hard or Hardly Worksin’

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After a whirlwhind, SummerWorks-filled weekend (we saw nine shows in three days for Eye – whew!), Torontoist needed a couple of days to recover from the theatre marathon. But it was all worth the risk of brain implosion, for there are some really stellar pieces playing this at this year’s festival, and you still have a whole weekend left to catch them. Here are our top three:
First off, pictured above is the cast of Mike McPhaden’s Noble Parasites, a very funny post-apocalyptic tragedy about a fascistic socialist society living underground as humanity has long since destroyed the surface of the planet. When an ancient (and forbidden) issue of Reader’s Digest captures a young woman’s (Kate Hewlett, on the right) imagination shortly before her all-important exam, she starts questioning the basic tenets of her world, a dangerous thing when fascists are involved. You can catch it at the Passe Muraille Backspace Friday night at 11pm, Saturday at 9:30pm, or Sunday at 6:30pm.
Also speculative about the future, though not in as quite an extreme manner, is Chris Earle’s one-man show Democrats Abroad. It takes place in 2008, shortly after the next American election, whose results are so unpalatable that they send hoards of Democrats north to seek refuge in Canada. What unfolds is clever, gripping and hilarious, thanks to both the tight writing and Earle’s considerable skills as a performer. Also playing in the Passe Muraille Backspace Friday at 5pm, Saturday at 11pm, and Sunday at 3:30pm.
Finally, Essay, by Hannah Moscovitch, is neither in the Backspace nor about the future. It is, rather, in the Passe Muraille Mainspace, and mostly about the past. When a first-year university student (Claire Jenkins) wants to write her history paper on the battle tactics of a minor female historical figure, the consort of a prince, her TA (Jordan Pettle) objects on grounds of relevancy, which leads to a debate about sexism in history that spirals into an out of control dispute, especially once his doctoral supervisor (Richard Greenblatt) is drawn into the fray. Sharply written, tautly directed and dynamically performed, Essay plays Saturday night at 10:30 and Sunday night at 9.