Toronto Fringe 2008 Recommendations (the short version)

I have been seeing so many shows that I haven’t had time to spend on my site.  It’s both wonderful and sad at the same time.  But tomorrow (Thursday) I have arranged it so that I’m not going to my first show until late afternoon, so I’ll be spending the majority of the day at Jet Fuel sipping lattes and pulling together content for this baby.  I figured in the meantime though I’d reprint some of the reviews I’ve done for blogTO for the shows I highly recommend, since we’re running out of time for the festival.  Please note, this is only a selection out of what *I* have seen.  So I am no doubt missing some great shows in this list.

Keep reading for reviews re-posted from blogTO of:

– A Girl Named Ralph

– Exploding Breakfast

– JEM ROLLS: how i stopped worrying and learnt to love the mall

– One-Woman Show

– Stand up Monkey Poet

– Teaching the Fringe

A Girl Named Ralph (reviewed by Megan Mooney)

This is a great show. The first great thing is that, unlike many Fringe shows, which feel like they could use some judicious editing, this one was over too quickly. I wanted more, and hopefully Raffaella Diana will continue to work on expanding the piece and bring it back to Toronto at some point.

The show gave the audience a glimpse into an Italian-Canadian family. It was interesting, funny and a pleasure to watch. My only complaint was the transitions, the amount of time between scenes, where the lights were down, broke up the flow of the piece. Well, that, and the fact that I wanted it to be longer, the 35 minutes flew by. But I’d rather be left wanting more than sit there checking my watch hoping for it to be over.

A Girl Named Ralph is playing at the Robert Gill Theatre July 9, 10, 11, 12. For more info see the Toronto Fringe website.


The Exploding Breakfast (reviewed by Megan Mooney)

I loved this one-man show. It was a lovely subtle beginning. One moment the audience was chatting with Ingle Knight (the playwright and performer) and then suddenly I realized the performance has started. It’s a quiet, soft transition, lulling you into the show without the traditional ‘lights down, lights up’ approach.

Knight’s storytelling is engaging. He shows us his inner workings and offers up several characters from his days as a playwright in residence in Johannesburg. And, although the show is not specifically about Joburg, it does give us quite a flavour of it in the 90s.

If I had to classify the show I suppose I’d call it a comedy, but it’s certainly more than just light-hearted fun. This is one of those shows that’s funny and makes you think. Highly recommended, and luckily, there are several performances left! The Exploding Breakfast is playing at the Factory Studio Theatre July 8, 9, 10, 11, 12. For more info see the Toronto Fringe website.


JEM ROLLS: how i stopped worrying and learnt to love the mall (reviewed by Megan Mooney)

This show is frenetic. I’ve never seen a Jem Rolls show before, so I wasn’t prepared for the intensity of energy coming at me from the stage.

Rolls’ words draw you in. The rhythm, the rhymes, the metaphors, it’s like a rollercoaster that is always going full speed.  Rolls’ poem are full of moral lessons, or at least they espouse his morals, but they are also filled with laughter, energy and poignancy.

I was doubtful about this one when I first started watching it, but by the end of the show I was whooping and hollering at the top of my lungs while I clapped my hands raw. Rolls’ standing ovation from his full house was well deserved, and also indicates to me that if you’re gonna check this one out, you should probably try and book your tickets in advance…

JEM ROLLS: how i stopped worrying and learnt to love the mall is playing at the Glen Morris Theatre July 10, 11 and 12. For more info see the Toronto Fringe website.


One-Woman Show (reviewed by Megan Mooney)

While playing the role of Eileen, Marco Timpano does everything right. He does things the way we’re taught to as actors, but can be hard to pull off. He played it straight.

He doesn’t mug for laughs, he is committed to the character and treats her with respect, which is why the audience can laugh, instead of cringe. It was a wonderful decision to avoid dressing Timpano in drag, having him put on a high voice, and change his body language to something more feminine. Honestly, I can’t exactly say why, but that would have been offensive for me, and certainly distracting.

As it was, I didn’t find this show offensive at all. The audience loved it. This is absolutely a highly recommended piece. If you can, check out one of the two remaining performances. Also, be aware the audience was big for this one, so I’d suggest booking tickets in advance if you can.

One-Woman Show is playing at the Robert Gill Theatre July 10 and 13. For more info see the Toronto Fringe website.


Stand Up Monkey Poet (reviewed by Megan Mooney)

Okay, I’ll admit it, this one surprised me. I’m not normally one to go in for poetry, but I LOVED this show. The energy of Matt Panesh is completely infectious. Which is doubly impressive considering what a small audience he had when I was there.

Unfortunately, with the fringe sometimes a great show goes unnoticed (although, admittedly, usually due to a show not being very good at publicizing itself), I worry that it will be the case with this one. It really shouldn’t be.

Matt is bitter, he’s angry, but mostly he’s personable and hilarious. The poems play more like monologues than what I think of as poems, that man on stage is acting, not just doing a ‘poetry reading’.

Now, if you’re not comfortable with the word fuck then I’d steer clear of this one, since it is a large component of the play, but if you can handle some (a lot) of swearing then I suggest you get yer butt over there before he’s left the country and you’ve missed your chance.

Stand Up Monkey Poet is playing at the George Ignatieff Theatre July 5, 7, 9, 11, 13. For more info see the Toronto Fringe website.