2015 Fringe Picks: Part 1

2 Jul

Less than 24 hours into the 2015 Toronto Fringe Festival and there are already two shows that made our list of picks! Here are our reviews.

People Suck

peoplesuckcastphoto2This hilarious song cycle co-written by Peter Cavell and Megan Phillips pays homage, nay, celebrates the worst in all of us; through catchy tunes and deviously clever lyrics, the crappiest facets of humanity are dissected and put on display for all to enjoy. Cavell and Phillips’ songs each tackle one of many relatable archetypes – flakes, Darwin-defying idiots, religious zealots, annoying co-workers, etc. – but without ever coming off as distastefully cynical. Balancing out the comedy are two earnest and well-placed numbers that are as touching as the rest are funny.

Musically speaking, the show is wonderfully varied; there is a tonal through-line to it all, but each composition draws from a different genre or style. One particularly clever highlight is a nod to Gilbert and Sullivan’s ‘A Little List’ in which those who butcher grammar and the English language are taken to task.

Performers Ashley Comeau, Allison Price, Connor Thompson, Arthur Wright, and Megan Phillips command the stage with ease and are a treat to watch. While some are vocally stronger than others, the quintet’s collective decades of comedy and improv expertise (most are alumni of the Second City program) is plainly obvious.

Director Kerry Griffin impressively turns a little into a lot, with sharp blocking and choreography (one bit involving a visual representation of evolution was particularly well done) defying the sparse stage with ease.

A little relatable schadenfreude and a lot of catchy music makes this show one not to miss.

 

Gavin Crawford: “Friend” “Like” #Me

gavin_selfieCanadian comedy heavyweight, Gavin Crawford (of ‘The Gavin Crawford Show’ and ‘This Hour has 22 Minutes’ fame) and director/co-creator Kyle Tingly deliver a sharp quasi-meta treatise on our relationship with social media. It’s not virgin territory, but through his unique lens, Crawford brings new insight and personal reflection to the issue. Oh, and it’s funny as hell too.

Framed as a story about an increasingly bad day in which Crawford, playing himself, attempts to finally sit down and write his Fringe show but is distracted by the bottomless pit that is social media, “Friend” “Like” #Me is laced with a plethora of delightful tangents and trademark character pieces, and more than a couple self-effacing jokes (his vocal critique of one-person shows is a particularly wonderful bit of irony).

Those who saw his previous stage work, Sh**ting Rainbows, will be pleased to know Crawford is still in fine form – and those who only know him from his work on television may find delight in seeing a grittier and more earnest version of the affable performer than they might expect.

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