2015 Fringe Picks: Part 4

11 Jul

The last weekend of the 2015 Toronto Fringe Festival is upon us! Here are more capsule reviews of some excellent offerings:

 

pool (no water)

Credit: Samantha Hurley

Credit: Samantha Hurley

This provocative work from English playwright Mark Ravenhill is brought to live with a deft production from Toronto company Cue6. A recently famous artist invites a group of her still-struggling bohemian friends to visit her at her new abode (complete with outdoor pool), but the night takes a dark turn after the artist suffers a debilitating mishap. It is in the aftermath of the accident that her friends’ true natures and appetite for opportunism are tested and exposed.

The undercurrent of envy that defines the single-voice work is beautifully communicated by performers Chy Ryan Spain, Allison Price, Sarah Illiatovitch-Goldman, and Daniel Roberts. Director Jill Harper elegantly marries the script with vigorous blocking and physical theatre elements that enhances the already alluring story.

 

Served

jill_welsh_ron_kelly_served_promo_shotPlaywright Graham Isador’s smart ensemble comedy about the behind-the-scenes world of restaurant servers is elevated beyond the typical “My Crazy Job Fringe Show” (of which there are many) by examining the existential questions that all of us with joe-jobs eventually confront.

Director Tom Arthur Davis makes remarkable use of the confined space in the Epicure Café; even a surreal dream sequence is accomplished with surprising success given the limitations of the venue. Performers Jillian Welsh, En Lai Mah, and Ron Kelly are all delightfully spot-on in their parts, but it is the chameleon-like Glyn Bowerman who steals the show as a series of difficult and eccentric customers.

 

Peter N Chris present: Here Lies Chris

pnc_-_here_lies_chris_program_photo_cmykThis dynamic duo are back with another hysterical offering, this time pushing the boundaries of their usual narrative and adventure-heavy shows by incorporating some unexpected and laugh-out-loud funny meta-theatre. The gist of the story is that when Chris dies in a banana peel-related accident, his best friend Peter must travel to parallel universes to find his replacement and bring him back home. It’s a clever concept on which they are able to hang a myriad of unique scenarios – and work through some personal (and very fourth wall-breaking) business.

These two are modern masters of character and physical comedy and should not be missed.

 

The Dinner Table

dt_poster_may_25This intimate little show from creators/curators Ali Richardson and Ben Hayward is site-specific theatre at its best and a wonderful departure from the buffet of comedy, musicals, and one-person shows that flavour the Fringe experience. Each night twelve lucky patrons are invited to sit down at the dinner table with a notable member of the theatre community to hear them tell a story about “home” – whatever that means to them. The storytelling is accompanied by food selected by the guest of honour and served up by Hayward and Richardson. It’s a dead-simple concept but one that makes for a rich and multi-sensory experience.

On the night this reviewer attended, it was Sky Gilbert, founding member of Buddies in Bad Times, that ambled through his memories of the sights and characters of Toronto’s Church Street, seasoned with a few pointed socio-political observations (he’s not a fan of the condo boom), while everyone nibbled on an assortment of cheeses and sipped on luscious red wine. The casual atmosphere led to conversation bubbling up amongst those at the table, and once the allotted runtime was over, at least two thirds of the audience stayed to continue to chat and linger.

Here’s hoping The Dinner Table becomes a regular event so that even more can experience its magic.

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