Does Peter n’ Chris really need another rave review? Based on how long the line was to get into the first show of Peter n’ Chris Presents: Here Lies Chris at the Toronto Fringe Festival, my time would be better spent writing about how I’ve had Enya stuck in my head since yesterday evening. (Yes, that was a reference to the show.) Nonetheless, Here Lies Chris is another reason why so many are willing to pay good money to experience the continuing bromance between Peter Carlone and Chris Wilson.
Although the only thing guaranteed by the show’s description is the probable death of Chris, I feel obliged to inform you that the show actually offers larger meditations on friendship, loss, and modern masculinity. Their humour relies a lot on the element of surprise so I will try not to ruin too much, suffice it to say, I would’ve wanted to think deeper about it all if I wasn’t too busy laughing my butt off at their passionate lip syncing.
It’s no surprise that the main reason why Peter n’ Chris works so well is because of, well, Peter and Chris. Of course it helped that they had a sold-out crowd who came into the theatre ready for a laugh; both are seasoned, charismatic performers who can command a bare stage completely alone. But the magic really starts when they come together and proceed to play off each other so well that you’d be willing to listen to them argue semantics for a whole hour.
While there was no lack of wit, the show also included an interesting range of physical humour and movement work. There were interpretive dance segments, slapstick, lots of arm-flailing, and even an impressive demonstration of rudimentary mime techniques by Peter. Every moment is also heightened by a well-chosen selection of music, sound effects, dramatic lighting, and flimsy props.
Most of their jokes land because, underneath all the strutting and satire, the cultural references are so accurate and sharply placed that you still get the sense that they have a true affection for whatever they are parodying. Even the older references feel fresh because they seem to know exactly what song, what line, or what gesture should be used to punctuate for maximum effect. In fact, the cinema studies friend I brought with me was pleasantly surprised by the number of references she was able to spot.
There were a couple of moments where I thought they veered a little too close to the edge of questionable intentions, however, their humour always knew when and how to bring it back. The bits that were in danger of lagging too long were assuaged by their mastery of escalation and surprise.
Basically, Here Lies Chris is a show made by two talented creators who knows how to put on a good show. Yes, they are so popular you can probably catch them elsewhere, but there’s just something about the feel-good, high energy Fringe environment that really adds to the experience. (Besides, it’s cheaper.)
- Peter N’ Chris present: Here Lies Chris is playing until July 11 at Randolph Theatre. (736 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.
- This performance is not accessible for non-English speakers.
July 05 at 03:30 PM
July 06 at 10:30 PM
July 08 at 01:45 PM
July 09 at 09:15 PM
July 10 at 03:30 PM
July 11 at 07:30 PM