As a theatre-loving parent of a toddler, I am so pleased – just on principle – with the existence of FringeKIDS. Even though children’s theatre can be hit-or-miss, just the experience of going has a lot to offer children. The Adventures of Mazel and Schlimazel, though, provided a good deal more.
Lorie Wolf‘s adaptation of the well-know Isaac Bashevis Singer tale is lively, lyrical, and well-told and acted by Geoff Kolomayz. The text and action is supported by a traditional klezmer band. Klezmer is a musical form sometimes referred to as “the Jewish jazz” for it’s highly improvisational style. I was surprised and really pleased to see a full klezmer quartet onstage and playing when we arrived at the Palmerston Library venue.
The Adventures of Mazel and Schlimazel is a story about luck (Mazel) and his nemesis Schlimazel, bringer of bad luck. They make a bet that Schlimazel can undo in one day what Mazel spends a year building for one lucky/unlucky soul. This performance is peppered with Yiddish words and phrases, which I understood and enjoyed. Nothing in the story is lost if you don’t understand the little asides, though.
Kolomayz plays all the parts in this version, which he does very well – he brings a full array of voices, physical postures, gestures and movement styles to the task. I appreciated his versatility and verve in his many roles, though I would also be interested to see this show staged with different actors playing the characters. As an example of theatrical storytelling, however, with few props and a great deal of craft, I give it full marks.
Regrettably, my son lasted only a bit less than half the show before his talkative nature – “Dancing!” “Hat!” “He ‘set? Crying?” – meant my husband had to take him out. I’d been assured that the FringeKIDS shows were more easygoing about kid behaviors in the venue, and maybe some were, but at 18 months he was by far the littlest kid there on Sunday – I’d say 3 and up was the rule.
Though the other parents were looking at us disapprovingly, Kolomayz onstage took it all in stride. He seemed especially suited for his task, speaking slowly and clearly, using his face and voice to communicate the story. He seemed as though he would be very difficult to distract or rattle, which I appreciated especially when my son started demanding a lap-switch, loudly.
We might go again, so he can see the second half. In my book, a return trip is all the praise a show could ever ask for.
Mon,July 11 6:00 PM
Tue, July 12 7:30 PM
Wed, July 13 1:00 PM
Thu, July 14 11:00 AM
Fri, July 15 4:30 PM
Sun, July 17 Noon
– All individual Fringe tickets are $10 ($5 for FringeKids) at the door (cash only).
– Advance tickets are $11, available online at www.fringetoronto.com, by phone at 416-966-1062, in person at The Randolph Centre for the Arts, 736 Bathurst Street
– Several money-saving passes are available if you plan to see at least 5 shows