acTOR (Large Dog Theatre)- 2010 Toronto Fringe Review

by Lucy Allen

Large Dog Theatre’s acTOR is a show for anyone who’s been forced to sit through the worst and most cliched of film. It spares absolutely no genre from it’s light hearted mocking and attempted to answer the most important of questions: can infomercials be artistically fulfilling?

acTOR begins with Daniel (David Strauss) nervously standing on stage while he attempts to spout the wonders of a set of woodworking books in an infomercial. There is a shout of “CUT!” and we meet the director of the shoot (Regan Thiel), frustrated with Daniel’s inability to connect to his part. What follows is an insane journey through almost every genre, starting with science fiction and ending with musical theatre, to try and get the right performance and breathe life into the soulless corporate commercial.

What makes acTOR great is just trying to guess which genre is being performed. For the first few seconds of almost every scene, it’s not immediately clear and that makes the punchline sharper. There were a couple of scenes that dragged a bit and could have ended sooner but for the most part the show clips along at a good pace and keeps the audience entertained.

Even better were the performances. Regan Thiel as the director is just a giant ball of energy and had both the wackiness for the more over the top scenes and the gravitas required for the drama scenes (she is not someone who is afraid to use tears, that’s for sure). David Strauss, who also wrote the show, balances it off with a much more subdued, shy performance as the actor who just doesn’t know what it will take to appease the director.

acTOR is just a fun show. As someone with a performance background, I could definately relate to that humiliating feeling of reading for commercials but all audience members will also get a kick out of the subject matter. It’s fun, it’s simple, and it’s completely unafraid to go in weird directions. In other words, perfect for the Fringe.

Details:

acTOR Venue 2- Tarragon Theatre Extra Space

60 min.
Mon, July 5 9:00 PM – 230
Thu, July 8 8:45 PM – 250
Fri, July 9 3:30 PM – 254
Sat, July 10 5:15 PM – 262
Sun, July 11 1:45 PM – 267

– All individual Fringe tickets are $10 ($5 for FringeKids) at the door (cash only). Tickets are available online at www.fringetoronto.com, by Phone at 416-966-1062, in person at The Randolph Centre for the Arts, 736 Bathurst Street (Advance tickets are $11 ($10+$1 convenience fee)

– Several money-saving passes are available if you plan to see at least 5 shows