Gametes and Gonads (Active Salad) 2011 Toronto Fringe Review

Gametes and Gonads is a science fiction one man show (starring Jeff Leard) about what secretly goes on in the male and female body during the reproductive process. Millions of sperm prepare to infiltrate the stronghold of their enemy – the egg – while the eggs go about choosing one of their “sisters” for the monthly sacrifice to the goddesses. It’s currently playing at the Annex Theatre and you should absolutely go check it out.

Despite being a one-man show, there are numerous characters and subplots to follow – and each is absolutely distinct in every way, which is a testament to Leard’s acting abilities. There are X and Y chromosomes in love, the sacrificed egg Emily, the high priestess egg, the militaristic sperm in charge of the platoon, and a few “technicians” mixed in. My particular favourite was the “Scotty” character, as I always appreciate a good Star Trek reference.

It’s a fantastically physical play. Not only is each character distinct physically, Leard throws himself around the stage, flipping and spinning to show the audience what’s going on. As well, he produces all of the sound effects for himself – which end up being fairly technological – and he does a wonderful job with them. Through his movement and sounds you can easily visualize what’s going on. Leard moves through the various subplots with ease, and it is incredibly easy to follow along. The various intertwining plots all come to an obvious, but satisfying, conclusion.

The only thing that slightly irked me was the male/military, female/goddess tropes, which I find a little stereotypical. Since we’re dealing with gendered biological processes, however, this is likely appropriate given the context.

A warning: the show is obviously sexually explicit in nature – I felt it wasn’t appropriate to tell you some of the character names, for instance – and there’s a fair bit of foul language. If you aren’t into that kind of thing, the show is probably not for you. If you are into that kind of thing, the show is a gem and definitely worth going to see. It is just too funny.

Details:
– Gametes and Gonads is playing at the Annex Theatre (736 Bathurst Street) until July 16, 2011.
– Show dates are July 11 at 5pm, July 12 at 1:15pm, July 13 at 9:15pm, July 15 at 5:45pm and July 16 at 11:30pm.
– 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