Blind to Happiness (Tim C. Murphy) 2016 Toronto Fringe Review

Photo of Tim C. Murphy

Blind to Happiness by Tim C. Murphy was the third performance I have attended at the Toronto Fringe Festival. It was also the most traditional, realistic drama I have seen so far. There are no clowns or zombies. No magic.

That’s not meant to be slam against clowns or zombies. Those are fun, too, and part of the great variety of performances to be found at the Fringe Festival. But if you are looking for believable characters showing real emotion, Blind to Happiness is worth your time.

Blind to Happiness is a one-man show. During the performance, Murphy switches between three very different men who work together in a restaurant. Couks is a 32-year-old dishwasher who lives alone with his cat, watches hockey, and drinks too much. Mike is a studying for a PhD in Positive Psychology and works as a server. Bliss is a line cook and a lovelorn poet.

Each man thinks the others are happy. But they are all struggling with sadness, failed relationships, and loss. As Murphy moves between the roles, we learn more about their fears and their struggles.

Couks is the focus of the play and the most fully developed character. He’s quirky and endearing and I was rooting for him to get his act together. My one complaint is that I wished we knew more about Mike and, particularly, about Bliss. I wanted to hear more of their stories.

I found Murphy’s transitions from one character to the next to be quite amazing and effective. It could have been confusing to follow. But Murphy completely transformed the way he talked and the way he carried himself for each. So even with minimal costume changes (just a different hat or pair of glasses), I always knew who was speaking. In fact, I had a hard time believing there was just one actor up on stage.

In addition to being the sole performer in Blind to Happiness, Tim C. Murphy is also the playwright. And I thought the writing was excellent. The dialogue is tight, intelligent, and very moving. Each of the main characters has a distinct voice that helped bring them to life. While the tone is sometimes dark and raw, it’s also very funny and uplifting. As the lights went down, I was wiping away tears.

Details

  • Blind to Happiness plays at the Annex Theatre. (736 Bathurst St)
  • 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 provided you arrive early (at least ~20 minutes) and notify the House Manager you require an accessible route.

Performances

  • Thursday June 30th, 10:30 pm
  • Sunday July 3rd, 06:15 pm
  • Monday July 4th, 01:00 pm
  • Tuesday July 5th, 02:15 pm
  • Wednesday July 6th, 03:30 pm
  • Friday July 8th, 09:45 pm
  • Saturday July 9th, 07:30 pm

Photo of Tim C. Murphy by Krysten Koehn