Rochdale: Livin’ the Dream (Hey, How Ya Been?) – 2010 Toronto Fringe Review

by Michelle Barker

Reaching a higher state of mind in Rochdale circa 1969

The plot of Rochdale: Livin’ the Dream at Tarragon is established pretty quickly when you walk into the Main Space; the set is made up of a radio station in one corner, some egg crates, and a graffiti wall featuring pictures of all things psychedelic: flowers, poetry, and lots of drugs.

The story is centred around a group of 20-somethings who live in Rochdale as its inevitable closure draws nearer. Backed by a killer soundscape loaded with artists like The Beatles, the men and women of Rochdale strive to reach a higher state of mind in the immortalized summer of ’69.

I was overwhelmed by the number of people waiting outside of the theatre who seemed to have a personal connection to Rochdale. While standing in line, I wasn’t getting papered by artists from other Fringe shows; instead I was being educated about Rochdale and handed informational pamphlets.

The show itself seems to have an important meaning for all of the actors involved and their passion for the project was clear. I thought that I personally needed more than the hour-long timeslot to connect to the characters and their stories, but the company definitely succeeded in making Rochdale real for me. Although, I didn’t quite buy the presence of heavy-handed modern references to things like Barack Obama, the G20, and ‘Prez’ Hilton.

I have to say that the best part of the show for me was radio host Terry “Tallboy” Tungsten played by Shamier Anderson whose energy throughout the show kept me invested in the story. His character served as a great plot device that really brought the laughs.

Rochdale: Livin’ the Dream is definitely worth checking out for young adults and not-so-young adults alike.

Rochdale: Livin’ the Dream is playing at Tarragon Theatre (30 Bridgman Ave)
– Performance times
Sun, July 4 6:30 PM
Tue, July 6 1:15 PM
Wed, July 7 11:00 PM
Fri, July 9 3:30 PM
Sat, July 10 8:00 PM
– All individual Fringe tickets are $10 ($5 for FringeKids) at the door (cash only), Online at www.fringetoronto.com, by Phone at 416-966-1062, in person (June 30 – July 11 only) at The Randolph Centre for the Arts, 736 Bathurst Street (Advance tickets are $11 ($10+$1 convenience fee), and $5 for FringeKids (no convenience fee for kids tickets).
– Several money-saving passes are available if you plan to see at least 5 shows