Candy & Shelley Go to the Desert is a play put on by 3 Ducks in a Row Productions for the Toronto Fringe Festival. It follows a pair of friends, stranded in the desert after their car breaks down on a road trip. This was the most traditional performance I have watched at Fringe this year; it didn’t try to reinvent a new way of storytelling, so it was still familiar and easy to follow. It was supposed to be a production by and for women, but to me it seemed to have missed the mark.
The first thing that I noticed while sitting in the theatre at St Vladimir’s Institute was the classic rock jam that played softly as we waited for the show to begin. It gave the vibe of a buddy adventure movie, and I was excited to see it from a feminine perspective. Yet as the show continued, it felt like it was using the same lens these road trip comedies take after all.
Though the girls on stage appeared as though they were supposed to be opposite personalities–one a city girl, the other a “Radish Queen”–they didn’t really have any major differences in their personalities. Both were irrational and emotional, and prone to sexual whims. Their major conflict that is supposed to drive the emotional plot was over a sexual dalliance with one of the characters’ exes. It all felt very superficial to me, as though it was still playing on the same stereotypes of “woman” that I’ve been fed before.
I had hope as a helmeted and motorcycle jacket wearing figure stumbled onto the stage. Even as it’s revealed that it’s a woman beneath all the leather, we still see the same type of reactions. She was panicked and afraid, ill-prepared for the desert. Underneath her leather jacket she wears a Spongebob shirt and her motorcycle is really just a Honda.
The most difficult part to get over for me was watching the entire female cast play these trembling and ultimately useless characters, all unable to deal with the overly complicated issues of empty gas tanks or an overheated radiator. It would have been nice to see one of the characters not appear confused by mechanics, or terrified of everything.
While I think there are some chuckle-worthy moments, to me this show missed an opportunity to showcase a different kind of female character.
- Candy & Shelley Go to the Desert plays at the St. Vladimir Institute. (620 Spadina Ave)
- Tickets are $12 in advance and at the door. The festival also offers a range of money-saving passes for serious Fringers.
- Tickets can be purchased 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.
- Be aware that Fringe performances always start exactly on time, and that latecomers are never admitted.
- Content Warnings: Mature Language, Sexual Content.
- This venue is wheelchair-accessible.
- Friday July 1st, 06:45 pm
- Saturday July 2nd, 03:30 pm
- Sunday July 3rd, 11:00 pm
- Monday July 4th, 06:45 pm
- Wednesday July 6th, 09:45 pm
- Friday July 8th, 04:00 pm
- Sunday July 10th, 02:45 pm
Photo from Toronto Fringe Festival website.