Fringe Picks: Part 4

9 Jul

More great shows on stage at this year’s Toronto Fringe Festival!

licking_knives.web_-250x250Licking Knives

This deceptively simple one-woman show from playwright/performer Melanie Hrymak is both elegantly written and performed. Hrymak tells the first-person tale of a young Ukranian woman’s experience growing up on a wheat farm and how she was ultimately separated from her family by the forces of World War Two. Hrymak’s performance is artfully restrained, perfectly capturing the essence of a character who has seen a lot in her scant few years and has grown a thick skin in response. A touching little gem.

three_men_in_a_boat.web_-250x249Three Men in a Boat

This frivolous (and the term is meant in the best way possible) farce from Pea Green Theatre is a brilliant addition to the cannon of British twit humour, a sub-genre perfected by the likes of Monty Python and Hugh Laurie. Based on Jerome K. Jerome’s classic 1889 travelogue and adapted by Mark Brownell, Three Men in a Boat recounts the less-than-remarkable adventures of three listless uppercrust gentlemen whilst on a fortnight-long boating jaunt up the Thames. The trio of foppish friends are energetically played by Matt Pilipiak, Scott Garland, and Victor Pokinko, all of whom have impeccable comedic chops. Director Sue Miner keeps things tight and the pace perfectly brisk, contrasting the comically mundane details of the story with theatrical vim and vigour. Jolly good stuff.

sex_t-rex_presents-_watch_out_wildkat_yer_dealin_with_the_devil.web_-250x250 peter_n_chris_and_the_kinda_ok_corral.web_-250x250Sex T-Rex Presents “Watch Out Wildkat!” (Yer Dealin’ WIth the Devil) / Peter n’ Chris and the Kinda OK Corral

This reviewer would normally not lump two shows together in one review, but weird and wonderful coincidences can happen at the Fringe, and the undeniable similarities between these two shows in terms of style, premise, and sheer entertainment value makes a favourable comparison inevitable. Although Peter n’ Chris might be a nose ahead in terms of brand name recognition amongst Fringe-goers, both they and Sex T-Rex are treating this year’s audiences to equally hysterical, cinematic, and physical comedy-based takes on the Western movie. The performers across both shows are manically wonderful, and both productions manage to lampoon the dusty genre to great effect. There are, however, a few notable differences. With a more sizeable cast at their disposal, Sex T-Rex’s staging is often elaborate and they are able to paint some truly impressive theatrical tableaus using nothing but their bodies. Peter n’ Chris’ buddy-chemistry is used to full effect, and they happily and spontaneously break the fourth wall when it suits them. Take your pick between shows – or better yet, pick both – you are guaranteed a great time.

punch_up.web_-250x250Punch Up

After years of near-faultless Fringe and independent productions from playwright/director Kat Sandler and the remarkable creative team behind Theatre Brouhaha, a review of their latest offering – as though it would be anything but praise-worthy – almost seems like a superfluous exercise. Nevertheless… Punch-Up, like most of the Brouhaha canon, blends laugh-out-loud comedy with quirky and memorable characters and an intriguing ‘what-if’ premise. In the case of Punch Up that premise sees a gently deranged fan (Tim Walker) kidnaps a world-famous comedian (Colin Munch) believing that if he can make the love of his life – a suicidal woman he met the day before (Caitlin Driscoll) – laugh, he might save her life. Sandler guides the proceedings with perfectly frenetic comedic timing, and the cast all deliver artful and energetic performances. Watching the quick-fire back and forth between Munch and Walker is a particular treat.

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