Dan’s Inferno (Fratwurst) 2016 Toronto Fringe Review

hands and forearms coming up from inside a teacupFratwurst presents Dan’s Inferno at the 2016 Toronto Fringe Festival playing at the Helen Gardiner Phelan Playhouse.

A comedy about an exceptionally average man named — you guessed it — Dan. After an accident that results in his death, Dan ends up in purgatory. There he is given the choice of either going to heaven or hell and in an attempt to save the woman he loves, Beatrice, he follows her to hell.

Dan’s Inferno is hilarious, and filled with quick-witted jokes that are brutally frank.

The show has a lot of spectacle that made it incredibly memorable. I could go down a list of things that I enjoyed but that wouldn’t make for an exciting review. So an example is the use of original music. Instead of using music as background ambience, it became a vital part of the show that helped progress the story. I wouldn’t call it a musical, instead, it had some qualities of one. Most of the characters were introduced through some sort of song, and in the case of Beatrice, we saw her transform from a perky actress feeling optimistic about her future, to a cynical woman who doesn’t see a reason to live anymore.

Although the show wasn’t all perfect. A significant moment where the play seemed the be lacking is when Dan fights Satan for Beatrice’s freedom. Compared to the rest of the show, which was very tightly choreographed, this scene lacked any dramatic action.Instead of mostly standing in a semi-circle, I wished there was more movement involved in the scene. I was disappointed considering it was a pivotal moment in the play.

Beside spectacle, what interested me the most about the play was the dynamic between Dan and Beatrice. What I thought was going to be about an unconventional hero and a damsel in distress, turned into an anti-romcom. Both these characters have contrasting attitudes, deaths, and desires. By the time it’s revealed to Beatrice that she exists for the purpose of being saved by Dan she is shocked. Beatrice is angered about not being the protagonist of her own story. It was exciting to see Beatrice turn the tables and demand her own autonomy.

Would I call it an achievement for feminism in theatre? No. After all, most of the vital characters are still men and women in the show didn’t have much of a purpose other than to help progress the story for our male protagonist. Beatrice even mentions the Bechdel Test, which I assume is a tongue in cheek response from the writers.

It led me to think that yes it’s a small push for women in theatre, but is that enough?

Watch the show, discuss, and decide for yourself.

Details

  • Dan’s Inferno plays at the Helen Gardiner Phelan Playhouse. (79 St. George 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 Warnings: Mature Language, Fog or Haze Effects, Implications of Suicide and Self Harm.
  • This venue is wheelchair-accessible.

Performances

  • Thursday June 30th, 08:45 pm
  • Friday July 1st, 11:00 pm
  • Sunday July 3rd, 01:00 pm
  • Tuesday July 5th, 02:30 pm
  • Thursday July 7th, 09:30 pm
  • Saturday July 9th, 09:45 pm
  • Sunday July 10th, 05:15 pm

Photo provided by Fratwurst