Toronto Fringe Festival Reviews 2012: Wednesday, July 11
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Toronto Fringe Festival Reviews 2012: Wednesday, July 11

In today's reviews: a family tree explored in dance; two pals become embroiled in a hilarious murder mystery; and a show that asks you to turn your cell phone's volume up, and use it.

Sarah Magni's solo (and PWYC) Alleyplay, Stamped: A Story about Daniel, who Happens to have Autism, plays twice daily at the southmost tent at the Visual Fringe. Photo by Corbin Smith/Torontoist.

We’ve got a few new reviews of Toronto Fringe Festival shows today—and they’re all positive.

The Ballad of Herbie Cox
Sum of Its Parts Company

Victoria Chua and Roland Cox. Detail of a photo courtesy of >Sum of Its Parts Company.

Friday, July 6, 3:30 p.m.
Saturday, July 7, 3:30 p.m.
Sunday, July 8, 7 p.m.
Wednesday, July 11, 5:45 p.m.
Thursday, July 12, 3:30 p.m.
Friday, July 13, Noon
Saturday, July 14, 12:30 p.m.

Randolph Theatre (736 Bathurst Street)

This is the weirdest, most multi-faceted show we’ve seen so far this festival—and at the Fringe, that’s saying something. Husband and wife artistic duo Victoria Chua and Roland Cox relate the personal histories of their extended families, including Chinese relatives whose feet were bound as children, a boy rejected by his father and sent to Australia, a brother addicted to street drugs, and much more. All of these stories are accompanied by performance: dance (and some pretty remarkable dance at that), piano, beatboxing, puppetry, and so on. The array of talents here is dizzying, and while the connection between the performances and the stories isn’t always immediately apparent, it’s such a personal display (which, by the way, includes some nudity) that knowing how it all fits together isn’t really essential to our appreciation. There’s also a special guest appearance at the end of the show—if the guest is in the mood.

(Steve Fisher)

Peter n’ Chris and the Mystery of the Hungry Heart Motel
Peter n’ Chris

Peter Carlone and Chris Wilson. Detail of a photo courtesy of Peter n' Chris.

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

George Ignatieff Theatre (15 Devonshire Place)

Peter n’ Chris (Peter Carlone and Chris Wilson) have crafted an uproariously funny show that blends a Hardy Boys–style mystery plot with classic horror-movie tropes, and throws in a genuinely touching bromance for good measure. In this impressively physical show, the Vancouver-based comedy duo elicits joyful laughter from start to finish. They use inventive choreography, perfect facial expressions, and seemingly off-the-cuff remarks that show how in-tune the two are with each other, and with their material. As Peter n’ Chris unravel the mystery of a creepy motel, minimal lighting and music complement their sound effects (most of which come out of their own mouths) seamlessly. They deftly portray a host of characters—including the scene-spoiling narrator, the unaccommodating motel manager, and a nostalgic elderly couple—with quick changes in voice and posture.

It’s not surprising that Peter n’ Chris have already won accolades for this show at previous festivals across North America. Much like the Hungry Heart Motel’s doomed guests, we would like to check in and never leave (though preferably for less murder-y reasons).

(Laura Godfrey)

Dina: The Burlapped Crusader
Footpath Productions

Photo courtesy of Footpath Productions.

Thursday, July 5, 6:30 p.m.
Saturday, July 7, 2:15 p.m.
Sunday, July 8, 7:30 p.m.
Monday, July 9. 5:15 p.m.
Wednesday, July 11, 9:30 p.m.
Thursday, July 12, 7 p.m.
Friday, July 13, 11:30 p.m.

Theatre Passe Muraille (16 Ryerson Avenue)

Dina (Claire Acott) is a precocious bundle of energy, bounding around stage with a playful laugh, as if all she wanted in the world was for you to like her. As it turns out, she has escaped to a remote barn in a Mennonite community where she has not had any human contact for a week. Which might explain why she has fashioned inanimate objects—like a coat rack and a balloon—to stand in for the people she has left behind in the bustling world of Toronto.

By encouraging those in the audience to leave their phones on and send Dina text messages during the show, Acott creates an infectious camaraderie with the audience. The overall effect is that of a children’s story that deals with very grown-up themes, like alienation, and technology’s effect on the modern world. The message may be slight in the end, but the charming delivery will have you laughing almost in spite of yourself. Bonus points to Acott for sending out personalized text messages from Dina hours after the show.

(Kevin Scott)