Fruit Fruit Mouth Mouth (Illume Collective) 2015 Toronto Fringe Review

molly thomas, lexi pedneault and philip turkiewicz in photo by shauna sloan

Whenever I’ve been swept away by a story, I often play the “what if” game with myself. I conjure up all sorts of variations for the characters and their situation—switching genders, time periods and whatnot—in order to explore, internalize and understand it. That’s what Illume Collective does with Christina Rossetti’s poem “Goblin Market” in Fruit Fruit Mouth Mouth, currently playing at the Factory Theatre Mainspace for the Toronto Fringe Festival.

The poem, which was quite hard for me to follow properly, concerns two close sisters and some goblins trying to sell them some fruit. The consequences of indulging in the fruit are both sexy and frightening, but it all works out in the end. Some sort of lesson is learned (?) and our sisters, dripping with fruit juices, are wiser for the experience.

Then, halfway through the show, the fun really starts. The performers talk directly to us and propose various “what if” scenarios. What if the genders were switched? What if the goblins rather than the sisters were the focus? Is it an innocent children’s tale or an erotic lesbian fantasy? These possibilities are dramatized for our viewing pleasure!

You know what first piqued my interest in this show? It was imagery of people smearing fruit on their faces. And yes, there is some wonderful fruit munching going on here. It’s all very sensual, rather silly and always pulsing with sound and movement.

The performers have such great charisma and chemistry that I wish they had relied more heavily upon it. The show frequently employs pre-recorded sound effects—static, bustling marketplace, babbling brook—that were, for me, unnecessary and cumbersome. These performers can carry this show with their own bodies and voices and could afford to turn those artificial sound effects way down or do away with them entirely.

Conceptually, a show like this could easily feel too academic with its explicit analyzing of the source text, but the approach here is so playful that it’s never indulgent or explain-y. It seems as if the performers have shared their own personal obsessions with us in order to unpack the ideas in the poem. The exploration feels intimate and whimsical.


  • Fruit Fruit Mouth Mouth is playing until July 11 at The Factory Theatre Mainspace (125 Bathurst Street)
  • Tickets are $12 in advance, $10 at the door. The festival also offers a range of money-saving passes for serious Fringers.
  • Tickets can be purchased online, by phone (416-966-1062), from the festival box office down Honest Ed’s Alley (581 Bloor West), or from the venue box office starting one hour before the performance. Venue sales are cash-only.
  • Be advised that Fringe performances always start exactly on time, and latecomers are never admitted. Set your watch to CBC time, and arrive a few minutes early to avoid disappointment.
  • Sexual Content and Mature Language

Remaining Showtimes
July 04 at 03:30 PM
July 05 at 10:30 PM
July 07 at 03:00 PM
July 08 at 01:45 PM
July 09 at 07:30 PM
July 11 at 09:45 PM

Photo of Molly Thomas, Alexi Pedneault and Philip Turkiewicz by Shauna Sloan