Saturday, July 19, 2014

Review: (Winnipeg) Crumbs (Fringe)

The Truth Shall Set You Free
by Edgar Governo

Stephen Sim and Lee White are Winnipeg Fringe Festival institutions, having performed as CRUMBS at every Fringe since 1998. (In fact, when I went to double-check that date, I was surprised to discover they weren't already performing together when I first started attending the Winnipeg Fringe five years earlier.) As such, it's to be expected that their longform improv show is a well-oiled machine at this point, and Made Up Truths is no exception.

There are a few elements that make a CRUMBS show different from most roll-of-the-dice improvisational theatre outings, beyond their years of experience. One that is particular to this year's show is a focus on true facts provided by the audience (in the case of the performance I attended, a restaurant server who once dreamed of being a pediatrician combined with another person's irrational fear of climbing stairs). Another is the improvised soundtrack by local spinner DJ Hunnicutt, which often made particular scenes funnier or maintained a mood where a scene could've dragged under different circumstances.

The third, and perhaps most important, difference is the focus on making the story ultimately told into something more than a joke factory. Every CRUMBS show has surprised me with the duo's ability to take improvised gags and turn them into poignant emotional moments--what started in this performance as a hackneyed hypnosis joke about thinking you're a chicken became a sustained metaphor about conquering the fears inside you.

CRUMBS is perennial and perpetual, and I'm sure I will enjoy their work for many Fringes to come, but the biggest truth they reveal (in this or any other year) is that we're all just making it up as we go along.

July 16 - 27

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