Toronto Fringe Festival 2012 Reviews: Thursday, July 5
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Toronto Fringe Festival 2012 Reviews: Thursday, July 5

The cast of The Other Three Sisters. Photo by Greg Wong.

As of the end of today, every one of Fringe Toronto’s 150+ shows will have opened. You can bet we’ll be Fringing hard over the next few days, with daily reviews continuing throughout the weekend. Here are some reviews of shows we saw last night. Or, check out our previews.

The Other Three Sisters
Nobody’s Business Theatre

Friday, July 6, 11:00 p.m.
Sunday, July 8, 9:15 p.m.
Tuesday, July 10, 2:45 p.m.
Thursday, July 12, 5:15 p.m.
Friday, July 13, 9:45 p.m.
Saturday, July 14, 7:00 p.m.

St. Vladimir’s Theatre (620 Spadina Avenue)

“You never really leave the house in which you grew up” is the mantra that drives this new show from writer/director Johnnie Walker, about three sisters and their futile attempts to escape their family home in Etobicoke. Jamie Arfin is wonderfully self-involved as failed actress Gillian, and Alexandra Parravano grates perfectly as histrionic little sibling Kris. A beleaguered Morgan Norwich struggles to keep things together as the responsible Jordana.

The Etobicoke home becomes a sort of Sartrean limbo, holding the characters in stasis despite the fact that they’d all like to leave (and despite the fact that they face no obstacles to doing so). Slowly, details of the characters’ histories are revealed. These are touching, and, surprisingly, they include a paranormal twist. Walker’s script deftly explores complicated familial love-hate relationships and the desire to escape one’s past. The excellent cast—which also includes Julian De Zotti as the trio’s clumsily charming brother, Rowan—makes it a show well worth catching.

(Ryan West)

Dylan Gott: Medicine Woman
Doctor Thugenstein

Thursday, July 5, 9:30 p.m.
Sunday, July 8, 4:30 p.m.
Monday, July 9, 9:15 p.m.
Tuesday, July 10, 5:00 p.m.
Wednesday, July 11, 8:15 p.m.
Thursday, July 12, 4:30 p.m.
Saturday, July 14, 2:45 p.m.
Sunday, July 15, 4:00 p.m.

Tarragon Theatre Solo Room (30 Bridgeman Avenue)

Dylan Gott is a stand-up comic, and a pretty good one. As we mentioned in our Fringe preview, he’s been the opener for popular comics like Todd Barry and Brian Posehn. A full set of Gott’s stand-up is exactly what you’ll get at his Fringe show—no more, no less. His style of comedy is self-deprecating; he kicks off his opening by shuffling out on stage and explaining how his leg was broken when he was beat up by some kids recently. The entire performance is full of references to the ways his awkwardness gets him in trouble in public. He comes off as likeable, though this is not, as the program warns, a show for those disturbed by occasional foul language and sexual references. Look at it this way: paying for a ticket to see him at Fringe is considerably cheaper than paying to see him headline at Yuk Yuk’s.

(Steve Fisher)

Two Wolves Theatre

Photo courtesy of Jesse Watts.

Saturday, July 7, 5:15 p.m.
Monday, July 9, 2:45 p.m.
Tuesday, July 10, 8:45 p.m.
Wednesday, July 11, 4:00 p.m.
Thursday, July 12, 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, July 14, 7:00 p.m.

Tarragon Theatre Extra Space (30 Bridgeman Avenue)

A hedonist and a moral absolutist walk into a saloon, and in doing so set the stage for M.Z. Ribalow’s quick-witted postmodernist Western satire. The hedonist is wild outlaw Jesse James, who kills for pleasure. The absolutist is Wild Bill Hickok, who kills to uphold honour and the law. Soon the pair are joined by an anarchistic Billy the Kid, and the trio trade theories on moral philosophy with the speed of expert gunslingers, or Greek philosophers with Texas twangs. Their war of ideas is cut short by the arrival of the mysterious Sundance, who seems to kill for no reason at all.

The banter in Sundance tends to be a little too quick, but the attentive viewer is bound to learn a thing or two about introductory philosophy in this wry twist on a classic genre. The performers embrace the briskly paced material with aplomb—particularly Geoff Kolomayz as the sleazy, drawling Jesse James, and Alexis Budd as a wheedling barkeep caught in the middle of this showdown of reason. Caution: very loud cap guns involved.

(Ryan West)

So We Thought We Could Act
The Beast/Monamie Prods

Photo courtesy of The Beast/Monamie Prods.

Friday, July 6, 1:15 p.m.
Saturday, July 7, 10:30 p.m.
Monday, July 9, 4:30 p.m.
Tuesday, July 10, 1:15 p.m.
Friday, July 13, 11:00 p.m.
Sunday, July 15, 5:15 p.m.

Tarragon Theatre Extra Space (30 Bridgman Avenue)

Two young girls longing to be actresses make an all-too-familiar deal with the Devil (who looks and sounds an awful lot like one-time internet sensation Strongbad), by offering him their souls if they have not landed legitimate parts by the time they are each 90. The show spans decades, highlighting various failures and a long-time rivalry with a French ingenue classmate. The energy and chemistry between the two leads (Rena Hundert and Helen Prandekas) is infectious even as some of the jokes and bits fall flat. And if the songs range considerably in quality, we can be consoled by the fact that at least they are all quite short. Dan Derkson proves his versatility with every appearance, playing all of the male roles in the show, from Elvis Presley to Hulk Hogan. The most welcome element, though, is a pervasive sense of fun. But that spirit of levity isn’t quite as contagious here as one would hope.

(Kevin Scott)


Photo courtesy of the company.

Friday, July 6, 6:30 p.m.
Saturday, July 7, 10:15 p.m.
Sunday, July 8, 06:15 p.m.
Tuesday, July 10, 1:30 p.m.
Wednesday, July 11, 10:00 p.m.
Friday, July 13, 7:00 p.m.
Sunday, July 15, 2:15 p.m.

Theatre Passe Muraille Backspace (16 Ryerson Avenue)

Botched, a new play by local playwright and visual artist Colleen Osborn, is plagued with problems from the outset. It’s the story of a young woman whose life is the result of a botched abortion. She’s known only as BotchedBaby34, and is trying to find her sort-of birth mother. The show is slow to start, hard to follow, and has a script so disjointed that one can’t help but wonder if crucial details were cut in order to keep down its running length.

Actor Hannah Drew almost manages to save this sinking ship, delivering a pathos-inspiring performance as both the protagonist and the woman who tried to abort her. Drew does a fine job of motoring between wide-eyed naïvete and seen-it-all jadedness. Alex Vincent, who plays one of BotchedBaby’s talking dolls, manages to inject the odd moment of levity into this otherwise dark, confusing show. (If there’s one thing that Botched has no shortage of, it’s talking dolls.) Unfortunately for Drew and Vincent, Botched‘s problems are structural and beyond their control. It’s clearly a play with a message, we’re just not quite sure what it is.

(Chris Dart)