Friday, July 04, 2003

Day Two of the Toronto Fringe: In which I actually go to see shows...

An Act of God

Can I be honest with you? I was a little disappointed in this show. I've seen a couple of Joel Fishbane's plays before and, well, I think this is probably my least favourite of them all.

Which doesn't mean that this play is bad... I don't want to deter you from going. This show has moments in which it really shines: It does a good job of making you think. The cast is uniformly good. There are a few very well-written jokes that totally killed.

Now for some quibbling:

1) This play needs some dramaturgy and it needs to be directed by someone other than the playwright. There are parts of the script which contradict each other, little plot inconsistancies that could be easily ironed out. I have a feeling that Fishbane is too attached to his words (as all playwrights are) to make the cuts/changes that are necessary.
2) The Adam K. Adams role, played by Scott Faulconbridge, is underwritten. Compared to all the other characters, A.K.A. seems flat. I love watching Faulconbridge on stage. He's just plain fun to watch. I wish he had been given more to work with here.

And now a compliment: Fishbane has written an (almost) perfect ending. Endings are really hard to write, but this ending is enderiffic. With a little work the whole play could be brilliant, even Stoppardesque...

The One Man 80's Blank Tape

Charles Ross follows up last year's One Man Star Wars Trilogy with this show, a blast from the past directed by T.J. "Mirvish of the Fringe" Dawe.

Tonight was the first time Ross has performed this show in front of an audience and he did a marvelous job taking us on a tour of 80s pop-culture detritus like: Juicy Fruit ads, The Muppet Show, The Breakfast Club, Dirty Dancing, Night Court, the Karate Kid, the Princess Bride, Whatchamacallit ads (the candy bar, remember?), Close Encounters of the Third Kind, the Dark Crystal, etc, etc.

Also, for the second year in a row, the Toronto Fringe has featured a musical version of Top Gun on its stages. Someone should alert the Guinness Book of World Records. (Ross only does about 1 minute of Top Gun, however, unlike last year's hit Top Gun! The Musical.)

Verdict: Fun, but disturbing. In the end, I walked away amused but somewhat depressed: is this what is being stored in the recesses of my memory? I didn't even have cable in the 80s, so why do I recognize so much of this?

...And in the audience of TOM80sBT..

... Were a whole bunch of Fringe actors, directors and playwrights, as well as several representatives of the media. What this meant is that, while the house was pretty full, very few of those patrons were actual paying customers.

But that's a smart move, Fringers... Hold free volunteer shows and give away tickets at the beginning of your run. It's good for word of mouth, which is the best sort of publicity you can get.

So who was there?

- T.J. Dawe, the aforementioned director and "Mirvish of the Fringe". (I'm trying to get that nickname to catch on.)

- Nicola Gunn and Mark Chavez, the Fringe Power Couple. Gunn is the star of the WONDERFUL Tyrannous Rex and Chavez is the director of Tyrannous, as well as half of the HILARIOUS comic duo Sabotage.

- Peter Katz and Melissa-Lynn Dozois, director and star of Uncle Jack. Poor Uncle Jack only had eight people in the audience tonight. I haven't seen the show yet, but it has good buzz and the cast and crew are very congenial people who will happily give you tips on where to buy flashing lights for your bicycle. (Dozois recommends the shop on Bloor across from the Beer Tent. Also, did you know that you can get a $110 fine for riding your bike without a bell here in Toronto? Good God!)
So go see Uncle Jack folks; they deserve more than eight audience members. And send me your reviews or comments or Toronto bicycling tips to

- Oh, one last thing about Uncle Jack. Peter confirmed for me tonight that Andrew Katz -- the guy who sent me a review of Uncle Jack during the Montreal Fringe - is indeed his brother. I told you so, Vava Laverite!

Fringe Trivia: Which theatre company's car was stolen in Montreal?

Burning City New Works Company a.k.a. the guys behind Sabotage: In Fine Form. Mark Chavez, Shenoah Allen and Nicola Gunn (Tyrannous Rex) had to come to Toronto by train, because of the vehicular disappearance.

Kate Taylor Watch!

Two days down and no sight of Globe and Mail Theatre Critic Kate Taylor! Perhaps, unable to stand the heat, she is hiding with Mme. Proust in the Kosher Kitchen?

Send yer gossip, tidbits, and pseudo-celebrity sightings to

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