The first day of school can be a pretty scary time: learning all new rules, meeting so many kids, and finding out which teachers are the mean ones. And as Ms. X (Debra Hale) shows us in Legs Crossed Hands On Your Lap, it can be harder on the teachers than the kids. Her story opened its Toronto Fringe run today at the Tarragon Theatre Extraspace.
Legs Crossed Hands On Your Lap follows a year in the life of new teacher Ms. X as she tries to figure out students and adults alike. The result is a heartfelt and often funny tribute to the second oldest profession. Or as playwright Yael Sirlin describes it, an open love letter to teachers.
Although Hale carries the bulk of the dialogue on stage, she is given amazing support by Jamillah Ross and Stevie Jay, who from my seat, seemed to be having the bulk of the fun on stage. Playing everything from teachers to students, principals to parents, Ross and Jay are a whirlwind of strange voices and oddball body language. And as cute as their child characters were, it was their portrayals of control-freak teachers that seemed to generate the most laughs from the audience.
The play isn’t simply Kids Say the Darndest Things live, however. In a couple of places, the tone took a darker turn as the actors dealt with more serious issues like bullying. This was where the opportunity for a teacher to touch a student’s life took centre stage.
Those moments aside, as Fringe fare goes, Legs Crossed Hands On Your Lap felt pretty light. It likely won’t make you re-examine your life or challenge your thoughts on art.
But then I don’t think that was the intention of the piece. Instead, it is here to entertain and to celebrate teachers with all of their foibles. And in this, I felt it totally succeeded as a highly enjoyable hour of smiles and laughter.
- Legs Crossed Hands on your Lap is playing until July 11 at the Tarragon Theatre Extraspace. (30 Bridgeman 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 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.
- Warnings: Mature Language
July 06 at 02:45 PM
July 07 at 08:45 PM
July 09 at 11:00 PM
July 10 at 04:00 PM
July 11 at 07:00 PM
Photos of Debra Hale, Jamillah Ross and Stevie Jay by Guntar Kravis.