Life Records, by Beefman Jones Productions, is a one-woman show performed by Rhiannon Archer as part of the Toronto Fringe Festival. Part stand-up comedy and part confessional, the show is an exploration of how the music we listen to affects our lives, in which Archer delves into stories from her own life as comedic and eclectic examples.
One-person shows always strike me as an act of extreme confidence and charisma, and Archer shows that she has both in spades during the course of this piece. A highlight of the show for me that illustrates both of these traits is the reading of a letter she wrote to Metro grocery store about their music choices that had everyone in the theatre laughing out loud, and not for the first or last time during the piece.
The best moments of this show were often the ones where the music was playing and being directly referred to, where the energy was high from the brilliant and extremely dance-able song choices. My only wish is that there was more music played! For a show that has so many observations to make about music, I felt that the actual songs were a bit few and far between.
During these breaks, the pace of the show sometimes dragged while we were waiting for the next song to come along. A sequence towards the end where a few songs were played in a row was one of the highest energy and most engaging moments for me because of the fast stream of well-chosen music.
While for the most part her self-referential tone kept her personable, I did find myself occasionally feeling on the outside of an in-joke perhaps aimed more at friends and family than a third party audience member. It’s a fine line because the personal nature of the show is conducive to treating the audience with that familiarity, but in a few moments it felt like jokes were going over our heads.
Despite this, throughout the show, I found myself getting more and more invested in Archer and her stories. Among her abundant quips and one-liners, her moments of sincerity stood out to me as the ones that drew me in the most and where I felt she connected strongly with the audience. I was impressed and touched by how candid she was with her personal experiences, while keeping them witty and entertaining. Her down-to-earth honesty and charming audacity makes her seem like the ultimate best friend material.
In the course of the show, hilarious and heartfelt comments are made on how music affects the choices we make and the people we become. Director Lara Johnston and Archer both deserve congratulations (and Archer may deserve them for more than one thing, but for that you’ll have to see the show).
- Life Records is playing until July 12 at the Theatre Passe Muraille Backspace. (16 Ryerson Avenue)
- 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 peformance. 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.
July 03 at 04:45 PM
July 04 at 05:00 PM
July 06 at 11:00 PM
July 07 at 08:30 PM
July 08 at 03:00 PM
July 10 at 07:00 PM
July 12 at 04:00 PM
Photo provided by Company