Saturday, July 6, 2013

Review: (Toronto) Battle of the Bastards (Fringe)

This Bastard Brings the Audience into his Story
by Colette Shaw

The bastard of the title of this show is Edmund Gloucester. In this production, New Zealander David Ladderman performs (with a little help from the audience) the Gloucester family parts of King Lear. Ladderman is a busker by training, and his skills are very much on display: more than just talking to us, he has a conversation with the audience that is very much two-sided. The production warns that there will be audience participation, and while a couple of volunteers are brought up on stage to help with one of the more complicated scenes, really the whole audience winds up being involved together! I was kind of surprised he doesn’t raise the houselights a little bit for at least the beginning: it might have helped establish our relationship.

Ladderman’s performance itself is muscular and energetic: when not in character as a member of the Gloucester family or supporting character in their story, he can barely physically contain himself; running from side to side and skipping about, even juggling for a while just to get us amped up before the Shakespeare starts. His characters are strongly differentiated physically and he slips between them smoothly and precisely: I wish I could have seen his whole version of the play uninterrupted, but he breaks between scenes to discuss what’s just happened and prepare us for the next one. 

The production was a lot of fun, but I wouldn’t recommend it for anyone who likes to believe they’re alone and invisible in the audience.

Battle of the Bastards is at the Toronto Fringe


  1. We went on Saturday and were enjoyed the entire experience including cheering for our fellow audience memebers who appeared on stage (because it was not me!). David delivers a solid hour of entertainment...and I learned something about King Lear as well.

  2. Oh my god this show is AMAZING! Go see it if you haven't already.


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