If, like me, you are craving a good police drama right now and are counting the seconds until the new series of Broadchurch and Happy Valley are released, Vagrant and Bad Dog Theatre Company’s True Blue, playing as part of the Toronto Fringe Festival, could not come at a better time. And the good news is that it is improvised, so you can watch a whole British series of it (that’s six episodes) and each show will be different.
Because it is improvised, I can only talk about the show that I saw this evening, but in today’s performance True Blue delivered on everything you would expect from a typical police drama; good cop/bad cop, reluctant witnesses, misleading suspects, twists and misdirects, suspense and style.
It has the calm and pace of a ‘real’ television police drama, and despite being improvised it never feels rushed or like the actors are grappling to reach a conclusion. Even in the last few minutes, where I would be panicking that storylines needed to be wrapped up or that it felt like we were nowhere near a resolution, all loose ends were tied and the suspect was charged with murder, no sweat. This is especially impressive in a piece of improvised theatre which comes from something very broad at the beginning, is interpreted differently by eight performers over the course of the show, and is successfully narrowed down so quickly to nail the suspect in eighty minutes.
If you have seen Vagrant and Bad Dog Theatre before, you will know how stylish and unique their performances are to watch. It is unlike any other improv in the city, with some of the best performers around. Their smooth flashbacks and switches between characters and scenes always comes at the perfect moment without interrupting the pacing. Add to that an authentic opening credits sequence and eerie underscoring throughout and True Blue is a very compelling and satisfying show to watch.
And then – every now and again – you remember that what you are watching is completely improvised, and it becomes even more impressive! Whilst the audience was warned at the beginning that True Blue is not a ‘comedy’ improv show, it is still funny in the way that things that happen in real life are funny. But that is beside the point. That a piece of theatre with no script can be so well paced, authentic and sophisticated is testament to how very good Vagrant and Bad Dog Theatre Company is.
- True Blue plays at the Robert Gill Theatre. (214 College 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.
- This venue is wheelchair-accessible.
- Friday July 1st, 07:30 pm
- Saturday July 2nd, 03:30 pm
- Sunday July 3rd, 10:30 pm
- Tuesday July 5th, 08:00 pm
- Wednesday July 6th, 04:00 pm
- Friday July 8th, 01:45 pm
- Sunday July 10th, 09:00 pm
Photo provided by the company