The Judy Monologues (Baby Gumm Productions) 2012 Toronto Fringe Review

Baby Gumm Productions pays tribute to queer icon Judy Garland in The Judy Monologues at the 2012 Toronto Fringe Festival.

Opening night was a full house.

The Judy Monologues alternate between projected clips of her films, silent scenes including Garland look-alike Kimberly Roberts, and the monologues themselves.

The monologues (performed by Darren Stewart-Jones, Philip Cairns, and Michael Hughes) are pieced together from various voice tapes Garland left behind – initially intended to fuel an autobiography.

Instead these three formidable actors perform a polished rendition of the recordings. They become Judy’s voice. Re-instating her status as gay icon – and honouring her fame.

They also toy with the question of celebrity. What do we owe celebrities and what do they owe us?

In The Monologues Garland bemoans her seeming requirement to give autographs to strangers.

Later in life, her career and finances in decline, she intends to write an autobiography – because, “The public owes her money.” For entertaining their children, wives, husbands since she was a toddler.

Does the public owe Garland? Do we owe other celebrities – or do they owe us their autographs, talent, time?

That said, The Judy Monologues is fitting not just for fans of Garland, but also those obsessed with modern celebrities.

Stewart-Jones, Cairns, and Hughes present their monologues clearly, with all-around solid performances.

Kimberly Roberts is an amazing find – looking exactly her part. However, her silent scenes are mundane. If you look on her blog, it is evident she can sing, and I was secretly hoping for a song.

The Judy Monologues transitions abruptly between film clips, Roberts, and the monologues – keeping each decidedly separate. This slows the momentum of the piece. A little overlap between these three sections may have given the story more of an arc – as it is, there is no building tension or culminating action.

However, The Monologues are polished, relevant, and a loving tribute to Garland’s roller-coaster of a life. I recommend not only to fans of Judy, but to any modern audience enamoured with celebrity.

Details

  • The Judy Monologues plays at The Annex Theatre (736 Bathhurst St. Toronto)
  • Showtimes are: Fri, July 6, 7:00pm; Sat, July 7, 12:00pm noon; Mon, July 9, 6:45pm; Wed, July 11, 11:00pm; Thurs, July 12, 1:45pm; Sat, July 14, 2:15pm; Sun, July 15, 1:45pm
  • All individual Fringe tickets are $10 ($5 for FringeKids) at the door (cash only). Tickets are available online at www.fringetoronto.com, by phone at 416-966-1062, in person at The Randolph Centre for the Arts, 736 Bathurst Street (Advance tickets are $11 – $9+$2 service charge)
  • Value packs are available if you plan to see at least 5 shows

 Photo by Maylynn Quan