SLINGERS – the musical – Toronto Fringe 2010 Review

By Mira Saraf

On a small street off the hustle and bustle of Queen West, I enter the crowded theatre squeezing past people mid-chatter to find a place to sit. When I settle into the first few rows, I examine the stage in front of me.

A small table is set up in the corner, with a bar in the opposite corner and a few pots and pans hanging from a wire rack. When the theatre darkens we quiet down. It begins.

The narrator of Slingers – the musical, a sarcastic bartender, introduces us to most of the characters in the show, each with their own chance in the spotlight. They include a creepy lesbian manager who sometimes even feels up the boys after drinking, Jo-Jo a gender confused host, Armand the bus boy who manages to incorporate a pelvic thrust into any activity, Regina the musician trying to get fired, Beth, the new girl, and Karen, a fussy patron.

The repertoire of music is quite extensive for such a small show – with a variety of different songs and beats. The numbers are catchy and are often accompanied by coordinated dance moves.

The facial expressions and one-liners were the best part of the show. This entertaining look at the other side of the restaurant business is packed with humor and eccentric characters.

Interestingly enough, as I was searching for a website with photos of the show, I came across the reviews in EYE WEEKLY and NOW Magazine, both of whose critics despised the show. Although I not completely agree that it was a waste of time, they raised some good points.

It is short (only 40 minutes or so vs. the scheduled 60) and the plot line is quite under-developed. There is no real climax or ending, it is just a montage of all the different characters in the show.

It’s almost like watching a silly comedy over an independent art film. If you need a mature plotline and heavy character development, this show is not for you. If you want an evening of easy entertainment where you don’t have to think, then you will enjoy it.

It seems people are somewhat divided on how to take this show. Some readers disagreed quite strongly with the negative reviews. In addition, this one-star rated show, received a standing ovation, so it could not have been that terrible. In my opinion, the $10 investment is worth the crazy ride it takes you on. It has potential – with a stronger story that moves forward, this show could be really truly fantastic.

I was told once in a travel writing class that our job when covering anything non-fiction is to report what you see. If you hate all-inclusive vacations, but are sitting at the pool surrounded by people that are having the time of your lives, you can’t say it’s a terrible resort.

I think this rule applies to many things, including theatre. There is a grey area between offering your take on a situation and making sure you give as unbiased a look as possible at any particular thing. But maybe that’s just my opinion. I think it’s healthy to question our biases from time to time.

Details

Slingers – the musical plays at Theatre Passe Muraille until Sunday July 11

– Playing Thursday July 8 at 1:45 pm, Friday July 9 at 12:30 pm and Sunday July 11 at 1:00pm

– 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