Searching for Party (Arcturus Players) 2016 Toronto Fringe Review

Photo of Aaron Conrad, Patrick Fitzsimmons, Emma Gallaher, Dan GibbinsI wouldn’t exactly call myself a “gamer”. I like video games and spend a decent amount of time playing them, but with things like Gamergate and the often toxic environment of online gaming I generally try to distance myself from the culture outside of my own little bubble. When I sat down to watch Searching for Party I was a little nervous I was going to have to brave my way through that uncomfortable world.

Thankfully the Arcturus Players have chosen a much different direction, focusing instead on the humour and joy intrinsic to playing games and the possibilities that can arise from partaking in them.

Comprised of a series of sketches, mostly standalone, Searching for Party explores a variety of gaming inspired stories. From introducing someone to video games, to exploring the power of escapism, and the generation gap of “old school” vs. “modern” gaming, Searching for Party runs the gamut of gaming culture. It does so while avoiding the negative aspects (except to point out its inherent childishness) and instead focusing on how gaming can interact with and influence the world as a whole.

Now, one thing that I should definitely mention is that this is clearly a show written by people who understand and play video games. It uses some terminology that can create an obstacle for someone who isn’t well versed in gaming culture (especially online gaming). Thankfully the majority of the writing focuses on the characters themselves, and while some terms or phrases may be gibberish to the uninformed, the core stories are pretty easy to get involved in.

My personal favourite example of this is a sketch series that runs throughout the show about 2 friends who meet online. It’s not really about the game (aside from the first one which set up a running gag about a mispronounced player nickname and his knack for finding powerful monsters in their game), but more about their friendship and the bonds that sharing an interest can create despite long distances. It was a really heartwarming piece, and even though the sketch stopped going for jokes as it progressed, it had me involved in the characters and what they were going through.

Searching for Party is a great addition to the Fringe this year and I really hope people come out to see it. Its humour and humanity shine through its subject matter and make it something worth seeing whether you play video games or not.

Details

  • Searching For Party plays at the Theatre Passe Muraille Mainspace. (16 Ryerson 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.

Performances

  • Friday July 1st, 05:45 pm
  • Saturday July 2nd, 09:15 pm
  • Monday July 4th, 03:00 pm
  • Wednesday July 6th, 12:00 pm
  • Thursday July 7th, 07:30 pm
  • Friday July 8th, 11:00 pm
  • Sunday July 10th, 06:45 pm

Photo of Aaron Conrad, Patrick Fitzsimmons, Emma Gallaher and Dan Gibbins courtesy of Darren Moore