There are many treats to choose from in the theatre dept’s comic production of Inch of Your Life: Episode 1 at the Toronto Fringe Festival — take your pick between the feel-good piano music, lively banter between characters, and winking celebration of family in all its awkward, heartwarming chaos.
On the night I attended, the packed audience laughed at every joke and applauded every scene of this serial story. The comedy was at its best when it tackled everyday, relatable situations — my favourite was one character’s hilarious dream about being naked in a baseball stadium. The dialogue was very fast-paced, keeping everyone on their toes; although the performers handled the rapid-fire delivery like pros, I thought the show might have benefitted from an occasional change in pace.
Inch of Your Life: Episode 1 made excellent use of its talented eight-person cast; stage-pictures were varied and made use of the whole stage, while the scenes — following different clusters of characters — transitioned smoothly into each other. Switching between stories can often feel jarring, but that wasn’t the case here. Instead, each scene was funny and well-constructed enough to stand on its own, and they came together in a clear and logical way.
I especially enjoyed the lively piano music, which added flavour to scenes and kept the whole show moving merrily along. It was also rather fun to see the pianist smile quietly at particular lines of dialogue.
As often happens in comedy, the characters leaned somewhat on familiar tropes (including the central conflict between a “you forgot our song?”-type girlfriend and a completely clueless boyfriend), but the exploration of central themes still felt honest and relevant. How well do you really know your sibling or significant other? And how do you deal with being at odds with your family — people you might not have chosen, but can’t get rid of?
Inch of Your Life: Episode 1’s abrupt ending was understandable given that it is a serial show. I hope to see Episode Two in the near future. As for the theme of knowing your family, perhaps the character Eddie says it best: “What’s important is that you’re a good guy and you’ve never let me down.” Now that’s family.
- Inch Of Your Life: Episode 1 plays at the Al Green Theatre. (750 Spadina Ave)
- Tickets are $12 at the door and in advance, and can be bought online, by telephone (416-966-1062), from the Fringe Club at Honest Ed’s Alley, and — if any remain — from the venue’s box office starting one hour before curtain. The festival also offers a range of money-saving passes for serious Fringers.
- Be aware that Fringe performances always start exactly on time, and that latecomers are never admitted.
- Content Warning: Mature Language.
- This venue is wheelchair-accessible. Use the elevator at the Spadina entrance.
- Wednesday June 29th, 08:15 pm
- Friday July 1st, 10:00 pm
- Sunday July 3rd, 01:00 pm
- Tuesday July 5th, 04:45 pm
- Thursday July 7th, 03:30 pm
- Saturday July 9th, 12:00 pm
- Sunday July 10th, 05:45 pm
Photo provided by the company