Toronto Fringe Festival 2012 Reviews: Monday, July 9
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Toronto Fringe Festival 2012 Reviews: Monday, July 9

We just keep on Fringing! A half-dozen new reviews, including our first KidsFringe show.

Today marks the half-way point of the twelve-day Toronto Fringe Festival, and the word of mouth favourites are beginning to make themsevles known, with some shows already selling out their advance tickets (though, since all scheduled Fringe shows allot 50 per cent of the seats for at-the-door sales, that just means you need to line up early for the can’t-miss shows.) Our reviewers are still going strong, looking for the diamonds in the rough (and occasionally finding just rough).

The Wakowski Brothers
Aim For The Tangent Theatre

Derek Scott, Lorretta Bailey and Duff MacDonald. Photo by Kent Nolan.

Wednesday, July 4, 10:30 p.m.
Friday, July 6, 1:15 p.m.
Sunday, July 8, 3:30 p.m.
Monday, July 9, 8:15 p.m.
Tuesday, July 10, 8:30 p.m.
Thursday, July 12, 7 p.m.
Sunday, July 15, 4:30 p.m.

St. Vlad’s Theatre (620 Spadina Avenue)

As Jimmy Wakowski will tell you, vaudeville “is serious business, it’s not Shakespeare.” He’s not kidding. Using the framework of a one-night reunion of brothers Jimmy and Conrad, eight years after their last show—with perhaps a surprise appearance from performing partner, and Jimmy’s old flame, Caitlyn Rose—the comedy eventually takes a backseat to a story of surprising depth. As they rehash all of their history together, the familiar cracks start to re-appear and soon they are struggling to keep this special night afloat.

The jokes come fast and furious, tapping into an incredibly silly place that lurks within everyone, waiting desperately for that perfect pun. It’s not surprising then that many of the songs are quite funny, but there is a tenderness to a few numbers, especially those featuring the sweet voice of Lorretta Bailey, that lend the show its heart. There is great chemistry between Derek Scott and Duff MacDonald and though Scott does not have the greatest pipes, he more than makes up for it with a performance that slowly peels back the layers on a very sad clown.

(Kevin Scott)

Pluto’s Revenge
Ten Toes

Wednesday, July 11, 8 p.m.
Friday, July 13, 10:45 p.m.
Saturday, July 14, 1:45 p.m.

George Ignatieff Theatre (15 Devonshire Place)

Pluto’s Revenge is a child-friendly dance-play about anthropomorphic planets. It features a live, four-piece band consisting of guys in hazmat suits. The Sun is a dippy but likable valley girl, while poor, misunderstood Pluto is a character that kind of feels like it should be played by Rachel Dratch. The show is fast-moving, fun to look at, and remarkably charming. If you don’t like it, then you probably have a hard heart and don’t like puppies or rainbows, either.

(Chris Dart)

The Super Secret Subway Society

Freddie Rivas, Kevin Dowse, and Brittney Filek-Gibson. Photo by Katherine Sanders.

Thursday, July 5, 7 p.m.
Saturday, July 7, 12:45 p.m.
Sunday, July 8, 5:45 p.m.
Monday, July 9, 2:30 p.m.
Tuesday, July 10, 4:15 p.m.
Thursday, July 12, 5:15 p.m.
Friday, July 13, 1 p.m.
Saturday, July 14, 4 p.m.

Palmerston Library Theatre (560 Palmerston Avenue)

Two downtown-dwelling Toronto kids, one (Freddie Rivas) imaginative but friendless, the other (Brittney Filek-Gibson) popular and confident but TTC-averse, meet and create an imaginative quest aboard the Red Rocket. Borrowing a few elements from the Dr. Who sci-fi series, such as a time-traveling “professor” (Kevin Dowse, who plays several imaginary characters, sometimes in quick succession), this light-hearted show works as a primer on the TTC for young folk, and throws a few station name in-jokes out for their parents. The script is careful not to take any political stance regarding public transit beyond embracing the idea (“Some people think there should be a lot MORE subway stations… but we’re not going to go there,” for example), and cleverly references the intermittent rumble of the subway line below the theatre. That said (and this is a minor quibble), once the subway sounds are mentioned, the characters never acknowledge them for the rest of the play.

(Steve Fisher)

One in a Million (a Micromusical)

Photo by Tracey Nolan.

Friday, July 6, 8:45 p.m.
Saturday, July 7, 1:45 p.m.
Sunday, July 8, 10:30 p.m.
Tuesday, July 10, 3:15 p.m.
Thursday, July 12, 7:30 p.m.
Friday, July 13, 3:30 p.m.
Sunday, July 15, 12 p.m

Randolph Theatre (736 Bathurst Street)

This live-band musical, with a cast of accomplished performers, tells the story of some brave spermazoids undertaking a daunting campaign to fight their way to meet one very special lady. The show mostly eschews ribald humour to treat its characters and their storylines respectfully, and writer Ron Fromstein’s script finds plenty of (non-)double entendré laughs for our characters, especially for the ladies in waiting (Aurora Browne and Shaina Silver-Baird) to a scenery chewing Egg (Blair Irwin). Unfortunately, Fromstein’s script and composer Sam Sholdice’s music don’t integrate quite as well as we’d like. More music, with the plot lines and jokes woven into the songs, would make this a stronger show overall.

(Steve Fisher)

Sex, Bollywood & Other Lies
Limitless Productions

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

Randolph Theatre (736 Bathurst Street)

Sex, Bollywood & Other Lies sets its sights on deconstructing illusions about sex and romance crafted by the Bollywood film industry for South Asian youths. Unfortunately, while this thesis is explained clearly in the program, it is hardly recognizable on the stage, instead playing out as a flat and chemistry-free romance between entitled princess Trishna (Ashima Suri) and her sucker of a suitor Raj (Imran Mohammed). The performance finds its saving grace in a series of wonderfully choreographed Bollywood dance numbers, featuring a talented ensemble, providing regular and welcome interludes between vague and cliche interactions amongst unlikeable characters.

(Ryan West)

A Brief History of History: A 3-Disc Set
The Good Guys

Photo courtesy of company.

Wednesday, July 11, 5 p.m.
Thursday, July 12, 12 p.m.
Saturday, July 14, 5:15 p.m.
Sunday, July 15, 12 p.m.

Helen Gardiner Phelan Playhouse (79 St. George Street)

A Brief History of History is really funny for the first five minutes and the last ten. Unfortunately the other 45 minutes of the show—which consists of a series of sketches involving historical and mythic events, ranging from Noah and the Ark to the Second World War—ranges from kind of okay to thoroughly unfunny. History comes from the minds behind improv troupe Starwipe Comedy, and the crew seems to struggle when working within the confines of a script. They look uncomfortable on stage at times, most of the jokes are weak, and the ones that have potential are poorly timed. It’s not that we think we’re too good for dick jokes and gags about gay unicorns, we just get upset when they’re not done well.

(Chris Dart)