Fringe Picks: Part 1

6 Jul

The Toronto Fringe is now in full swing and here are a few early charmers and pleasers!

Adventure! Matt Gorman’s double-edged romp through a Camelot-esque world in which marital strife is a greater concern than any fire-breathing dragon is spotted with moments of hilarity, many of them courtesy of gangly and petulant Sir Godfrey (played by the comedically-blessed Andy Trithardt), his servant Osric (Colin Edwards), the foppish and imbecilic Prince Langley (Carter Hayden) and a straight-faced hermit (Jim Armstrong). Balancing the comedy is an more serious undercurrent loosely touching on the theme of mortality. The piece does haveĀ  are a few uneven patches where the energy lags – perhaps a first night issue that will be smoothed out as the run progresses – but even so, it’s a thoroughly enjoyable entry.

It‘s Always You: A Musical From Dan Redican, member of the legendary Canadian sketch comedy troupe, The Frantics (seriously, if you have never heard of them, google them now – do it!) and c0-starring Canuck screen queen Sheila McCarthy (I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing, Little Mosque on the Prairie, Die Hard 2 – I like that movie, gimme a break), this quiet musical revisits the same three old friends in a plethora of “what if” alternate universes to explore themes of regret, sacrifice, and life choices. It’s simple but thoughtful material that is enhanced by Redican’s gentle humour and a likeable fourth-wall breaking narrator. The cyclical structure of the piece does hinder a feeling of linear narrative progression, but that isn’t to say that one does not feel as though one hasn’t been on a journey with the characters.

Radio: 30 Chris Earle’s one-and-a-half-hander (essentially a one man show with off-stage vocal support from Fringe vet Paul Constable) was a big hit when it debuted in 1999 – and with good reason. This subtle and ever so slightly dark comedy peels back the facade of the world of commercial voice work with great effect and surprising emotional impact. On a superficial level, one comes away with an appreciation for the artifice of the format and the performances behind it. On a more profound level, Earle reveals the inner turmoil of “Ron”, a professional voice over artist who examines his moniker of “artist”, the fragility of his career and the fragility of friendship, all while cooing to the audience in dulcet tones. A great performance from Earle mixed with unique material makes for a remarkable show.

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