Laurentina’s Funhouse (Laurentina’s Improv Club) 2011 Toronto Fringe Review

Laurentina (Lauren Stein) has given up a life in the circus to pursue her dream of becoming an accountant. Finally settled into an internship and a permanent home, she cannot help but dwell on the circus, and has invited you, her former colleagues under the big top, to come for a visit. Laurentina’s Funhouse transforms a 2nd Floor Kensington Market apartment (51 Kensington Ave.) into a circus for a small audience of no more than 20 people.

This show is not a good choice if you are shy, as you should expect to get involved with the show. The intention is to blur the lines between audience and performer, making you part of the act. The show I experienced will not be the show you experience, as you and your fellow audience members will be different each time.

It begins outside, in the heart of Kensington Market, where you are invited to pick out items to create your costume. Laurentina will greet you there. You are expected to join the conversation – I was deemed “Esmeralda the Flying Trapeze Artist” at this point.

We were then invited inside to check out Laurentina’s new digs. This show is an example of site-specific theatre – it isn’t a performance space made up to look like an apartment like you may be used to. It’s a genuine apartment, and a beautifully painted one at that – a local artist has transformed it into a brightly coloured circus abode with a variety of oddities throughout, such as bubble wrap on the floor (not to mention a few accounting textbooks).

Laurentina then “reminds” you of a few improvisational games you all used to play together to warm up for your circus performances and leads you through a series of them. You’ll tell stories, you’ll make up songs, and you’ll do any number of strange things. And you’ll be surprised when it’s all suddenly over and it is time to go home.

I think Laurentina’s Funhouse is an excellent choice for someone looking for more than the standard theatrical experience. It allows you to actually be in a Fringe show, and could end up being a lot of fun – if you’re willing to act like a goof.

Details:
Laurentina’s Funhouse is playing at 51 Kensington Avenue, 2nd Floor, until July 17, 2011.
– Show dates are July 10 at 12pm, July 11 at 5pm, July 13 at 7pm, July 15 at 6pm and July 17 at 3pm.
– 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