There is only so much a person can take when they are forced to listen to unending misinformation under the guise of education. In Carrie’s Little Lambs by Blotter Productions playing at the Factory Theatre Studio as part of the 2015 Toronto Fringe Festival, the audience is primed for a religious showdown. Too bad the play never quite delivers on its promise.
This is not a show with a lot of plot. We, the audience, are Carrie’s (Brook McGinnis) ‘lambs,’ who tune in each week to hear her teachings. She is joined by her child co-host Jude (Shawnee Arnett) and silent musical accompanist Geunter (David McGinnis). Ultimately, this is their final show when one of their members is pushed to the brink by Carrie’s unending, hate-filled lies.
You know, I really wanted to like this. Normally, I love works that skewer religious indoctrination through misinformation. I can’t quite point to one thing that frustrated me about Carrie’s Little Lambs.
It ran through the standard religious comedy checklist, sometimes successfully but often unimaginatively. For instance, when she discusses “The Gay Agenda.” Between accusation of turning restaurants into the Cheesecake Factory and protecting the ‘sanctity of marriage,’ it’s an exercise in absurdity, fun but not funny, lacking heart.
When the play mimes children show methods, however, there is considerably more comedic pay-off. One such segment involves the word of the day, eventually leading to the self-flagellation of a child.
And the musical numbers are clever. You have to really listen to them to catch everything but I’ve never seen the baking analogies applied so creatively to heterosexual procreation. Brook McGinnis belts out each song exactly like an evil Sheri Lewis would, with all the sweetness and light even as her words are little more than sugar-coated vile.
Unfortunately the in-between bits really made me realize the uneven quality of the jokes and the last act killed it for me though I can’t give it away here.
In the show’s defense, I appeared to be the minority. The people around me were laughing and enjoying themselves so I recognize that I might be the odd duck here.
- Carrie’s Little Lambs is playing until July 11 at the Factory Theatre Studio (125 Bathurst)
- 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 01:15 PM
July 04 at 07:00 PM
July 05 at 03:00 PM
July 06 at 08:15 PM
July 08 at 05:45 PM
July 11 at 12:30 PM
Photo of Dave McGinnis as Geunter by Brook McGinnis/Blotter Productions