The Society of Skeptics (Smash Co Production) 2011 Toronto Fringe Review

To be completely honest, when I walked through the doors at the Factory Theatre Mainspace, I wasn’t sure whether The Society of Skeptics, was a narrative or some sort of demonstration.

Show descriptions warned of audience participation and the description mentioned something about a reward to anyone who could demonstrate a supernatural claim. Was the audience supposed to bring claims of supernatural activity? Or was it a show about an organization called the Society of Skeptics?

As I found out, the Smash Co production, The Society of Skeptics is a story about a group that seeks to test out supernatural claims, and bring down psychic and religious frauds that prey on the vulnerable – those in mourning and in suffering. They submit anyone that claims supernatural experience to a test under completely objective conditions.

Featuring two hardcore skeptics, a suit-outfitted psychic and a slightly manic, yet crisply hunky preacher, this show was at times, funny, yet touching at others. Be prepared to be singled out (I was – but won’t reveal the details – it might spoil the fun).

Overall, the main reason I enjoyed The Society of Skeptics is because it made me think about faith. To a certain extent, belief helps people giving them hope and helping them deal with the challenges in front of them, and allows them to answer questions like whether there is a life beyond the grave, and the existence of things that are beyond explanation.

The show raises strong ethical questions about taking advantage of people’s faith. Yet it doesn’t completely eliminate any possibility, which I thought was a definite strength.

It also raises the question of people’s vulnerability, to deceit in the name of spirituality, as well as to other human predators such as scam deals, telemarketers and the like.

How will we ever know who is for real? It seems that if we want to believe, we’ll look for signs that a certain prophecy or belief is true – but if we have made up our mind not to believe, we will only look for holes in a story.

Whether or not this was the intended result for this show – I’m not sure. But it is what I got out of it – and we will never quite know for sure whether there are things beyond explanation.

Details
The Society of Skeptics plays at the Factory Theatre Mainspace (125 Bathurst Street)
– It plays the following times:
Wed, July 6 6:30 PM Fri, July 8 10:30 PM Sun, July 10 8:45 PM Wed, July 13 Noon Thu, July 14 2:15 PM Fri, July 15 11:00 PM Sat, July 16 4:00 PM

– 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