The Man Who Loved Beer (Rhyming Optional Productions) 2015 Fringe Review

Photo of Kevin P. Gilday
The Man Who Loved Beer hails from Scotland, with Edinburgh Fringe veteran Kevin P. Gilday. While he waits for a “highly-paid poetry revival” to hit popular culture, Gilday has brought the Toronto Fringe Festival a different kind of solo show than I’ve seen before. Fringe has solo shows aplenty and is no stranger to spoken word; however, this Glasgow native has crafted a gritty autobiographical story of alcoholism, alienation, and personal redemption, told almost entirely in verse.

Now, I must first admit that I’m biased where Scots are concerned. Not only do I have Scottish ancestry, but I love the Glasgow accent best of all, along with Glaswegians’ twisted sense of humour and noted capacity for telling a good yarn. Gilday ticks all the boxes. Those unfamiliar with the accent may have some trouble catching all of his words, but he really is quite clear and accessible.

Gilday spins a multi-layered tale that has a hypnotic quality to it; this seems more than just the result of his use of rhyming schemes or repeated refrains. As he gives us an intimate, exposed, sometimes ugly look at the life of a man dependent on alcohol, the room seems to become smaller, darker, more enclosed – not unlike a pub.A solid hour of thought-provoking verse is an intense experience, though, even for those who love poetry. About three-quarters of the way through I noticed increasing restlessness among some audience members, who began to fidget or react much less energetically than they had before. Maybe the ‘booze haiku(s)’ could go in favour of a slightly shorter, more focused story?I also found the transition points in the story to be slightly awkward. While he’s very appreciative of his audience members, thanking them after each segment, I wonder whether there might be a less self-conscious way of transitioning from one point to another. Perhaps a sound or some other device might be employed to move the story forward.

Having said that, Gilday has memorized an astounding amount of material for this show. He may have written every word, but it’s still a huge undertaking and one in which he never falters. The segments of verse that make up the show are each very dense and deeply reflective. Some are funny, others are full of angst, but Gilday doesn’t flinch from exposing his weaknesses.

With an earnest delivery and thorough commitment, Kevin P. Gilday has created a show that holds its own unique place in the Fringe schedule. Those who love evocative language, cutting humour, and a creative approach to storytelling will quite appreciate this show.


  • The Man Who Loved Beer is playing until July 12 at the Tarragon Theatre Solo Room (30 Bridgman Ave.)
  • 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.
  • This performance is not accessible for non-English speakers.
Remaining Showtimes
July 05 at 08:00 PM
July 07 at 10:15 PM
July 08 at 06:30 PM
July 09 at 02:45 PM
July 10 at 07:00 PM
July 11 at 01:00 PM
July 12 at 04:00 PM
Photo of Kevin P. Gilday by Nadia Valkanova.