Cast of Tim Buck 2, left to right: Jody Hewston, Margaret Evans, Greta Papageorgiu, Andrew Zadel, Melissa Hood, and Ben Sanders. Photo courtesy Praxis Theatre.
At the end of Tim Buck 2, the audience is invited to participate in a brief debate over a motion that asks for the right to suspend the civil rights of a few to protect the security of everyone else. The opening night crowd appeared nervous to take a direct part in the proceedings, as many Toronto Fringe audiences often are when given the opportunity, but their applause for those arguing the “no” side showed where its sympathies lay. Given the piece’s base focus on a rehearsal of a play in support of jailed 1930s Communists, it was doubtful there were going to be too many viewers on the right side of the political fence.
The “Living Newspaper” format made for a quick pace, which prevents the agit-prop style material from feeling like a dull school history lesson, even with the presence of an old-fashioned overhead projector (used for transitions and humourous drawings, including digs at former prime ministers). Rough edges were evident—some of the transitions out of the rehearsals for Eight Men Speak into modern issues were awkward, and it was clear which portions relied on improvisation—but the parallels between the treatment of domestic dissidents in the 1930s and current security issues (e.g. Omar Khadr) appeared to resonate with much of the audience. Out of the ensemble, Ben Sanders’ easygoing, Eastern European–accented, anthem-singing comrade who harbours a secret was among the most engaging performances.
The next performance is today at 2:30 p.m. at the Tranzac Club.
The Fringe runs until July 12 at various locations around the city. Check back for Torontoist’s daily Fringe coverage throughout the festival.