review by Megan Mooney, cross-posted from blogTO
If you were following the Fringe coverage, you already know that I surprised myself by liking One Woman Show a lot. So did a lot of other people. I figured since it was the patron’s pick, and managed to get one of the much coveted ‘Best of the Fringe’ spots and opens tonight at Diesel Playhouse , that it was worth re-visiting.
So, why did people like it?
It’s a good question. One Woman Show is a parody of one-woman shows, written by three men with a man playing the Eileen , the ‘woman’ who’s show it is. Sounds a bit scary, doesn’t it? When I first read about this show I rolled my eyes and figured it was going to be painful. Happily, the show proved me wrong.
It didn’t lampoon women. If there was any lampooning, it was at a specific woman, there was nothing about the show that made it feel like these writers felt all women were this way.
Eileen feels like a composite of self-righteous actors – I would venture to say both men and women – who put on plays that feel like the theatre version of masturbation. Of course not all one-person shows are like this, but some certainly are. Sometimes the self-examination feels too specific, nothing global, nothing that anyone else could relate to, nothing that tries to engage the audience. This show hit the mark on how those shows feel.
Nothing about the performance felt like mockery. Nothing felt like people were being poked fun at. In fact, I would not be surprised to find everything in that show in various one-woman shows. The difference is that as an audience, we were basically given tacit approval to laugh at the things that usually we have to endure with no more than an eye roll. Plus, it had some stellar one-liners, my favourite was the line that went something like "Cosmo, celebrating 40 years of setting the woman’s movement back 40 years."
Now, don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t a perfect show. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a perfect show actually. There are a few things that I would have liked to see change. Without spoiling anything for you, I’ll just tell you that the ending was excellent, but lost it’s punch because it went on for too long. And there was a moment when I felt uncomfortable, ironically enough, it was when Eileen was imitating a man. There is nice self-referential stuff in there, but the portrayal of the guy was the only thing that made it feel like Eileen was being actively mocked. But really, those are little quibbles in what is otherwise a really great show. It’s unbelievably fun. And, now that it’s at Diesel Playhouse, you’ll be able to enjoy a libation while you watch!
Best of the Fringe brings seven of the best shows from the Toronto Fringe Festival to Diesel Playhouse for an extended run. It’s tough competition – there were almost 150 shows at the Fringe to choose from, and a heck of a lot of those were really good.
– One Woman Show plays at the Diesel Playhouse (56 Blue Jays Way) from July 24 – July 26, 2008
– Showtimes – Thursday, July 24 at 7:30pm; Friday, July 25 at 9:00pm, and Saturday, July 26 at 9:00pm
– Tickets are $15 and available at the door or through the Diesel Playhouse website