Saturday, July 6, 2013

Theatre For Thought, July 6, 2013

joel fishbane

Probably the most interesting thing about the line-up at this year’s Toronto Fringe, at least for the hardened Fringe veteran, is how many recognizable names there are. It’s almost as if the Fringe stalwarts have come back to help celebrate the festival’s 25th year. There’s the usual mixture of unknowns and future stars; but the roster also includes a who’s who of past festivals who have returned to show us what the Fringe is all about. 

Jem Rolls, spoken word poet extraordinaire, is back with Jem Rolls Attacks the Silence – I could describe the show, but it’s really just easier if you take my word for it and go. Keir Cutler, who had success with Teaching Detroit and Teaching As You Like It (among others), is returning with Teaching Hamlet, his two-man comedy that explores the Shakespeare authorship question. And comedian Dan Bingham is letting Toronto see his troubled childhood in Adopt This!, a one-man show that received accolades when it premiered in Montreal last year. 

Speaking of shows that came from Montreal, Joanne Sarazen’s Jesus Jello: The Miraculous Confection is appearing at the College Street United Church featuring an all new, Toronto cast. After Jesus appears in a young man’s dessert, the Wilson family are left to wonder if God is speaking to them through their gelatin. It was a zany comedy when I saw it in Montreal; Sarazen has reportedly heightened the zany even as she’s tightened the text.

It’s also hard not to recommend Callaghan: The Wings of the Butterfly from sketch troupe Sex T-Rex. It’s a wild bit of sketch that parodies a host of Hollywood blockbusters while still managing to tell a story that actually stands on its own two feet. 

Fresh from Vancouver come comedians Peter n’ Chris, a Canadian Comedy Award nominated sketch troupe. Straight from Vancouver, they promise another round of sharp sketches in peter n’ chris explore their bodies, a show which just won the Just For Laughs Comedy Award in Montreal. 

Then there’s Weaksauce, actor Sam Mullins’ follow-up to last year’s Tinfoil Dinosaur, which won the Patron’s Pick Award in 2012. Not much is known about this piece, other then the promise that it’s a comedy of “first times, second chances and third wheels”. And I can’t say enough about Mike Delamont’s God is a Scottish Drag Queen. Delamont, as the titular deity, discusses life, the universe and everything, but he improvises so often that no two shows are ever the same. 

The Toronto Fringe is one of the biggest Fringes in Canada and the pressure is on for the hundreds of artists and companies: successful shows have, in the past, gone on to remounts in Toronto, across the country and, once upon a time, even to Broadway. (Pop Quiz: Name that show!) There’s more going on in this ten day festival than even I can shake a stick at, so rather then try to see everything, I’m just going to pick a venue and press my luck. Expect to see some of my thoughts in the days to come…

The Toronto Fringe Festival runs July 3 – 14. For tickets and information visit

[Also see reviews from CharPo for many of the shows mentioned in this article including Joel's reviews]

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