Caws & Effect (Mind of a Snail) 2015 Toronto Fringe Review

caws effect picture

From the moment they step out from the wings of the Factory Theatre Mainspace, dressed as crows, to their final bows—where they received a standing ovation—I was enchanted by Mind of a Snail’s stunning Toronto Fringe show, Caws & Effect. I am in awe of Chloe Ziner and Jessica Gabriel. This is an inspiring feat of showmanship!

Working with two overhead projectors, they present handcrafted shadow theatre that seems to defy physics. Really! I could barely wrap my head around the visual marvels they’ve achieved. Their style is so very cinematic, incorporating an array of startling perspectives, traveling scenery and seamless, imaginative transitions.

When an owl threatens their nest, a pair of smart-ass crows plant a magical dream seed given to them by a worm. Out of this seed, grows a sprawling, crow-populated urban metropolis. But the crows discover that incautious progress comes at a high cost.

This whimsical fable is bursting with humour, wonderment and even a few mildly frightening moments. From cosmic events swirling inside of an egg to cheesy bird puns in word bubbles, this spectacle is intricate and layered. And it never loses momentum—ever!

I certainly don’t want to start spewing Meta-babble, but I find myself fascinated by how important form can be to a story. If this had been a standard animation, I might have thought: oh, cute story. But because I’m so aware of the mechanics involved, the hours of painstaking work, the planning, the skill and foresight required to realize all of this striking imagery…it becomes something so much bigger.

Caws & Effect took my breath away. Do not miss this show!


  • Caws & Effect is playing until July 12 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.

Remaining Showtimes
July 04 at 09:15 PM
July 05 at 08:45 PM
July 07 at 01:15 PM
July 08 at 12:00 PM
July 10 at 11:00 PM
July 12 at 03:30 PM

Photo of Chloe Ziner and Jessica Gabriel by Chloe Ziner