Tyumen, Then (October Theatre) 2011 Toronto Fringe Review

Satirical takes on ideology, new looks at those two scuffles we called World Wars in the 20th Century, and ohmygosh, cigarette smoking! Those are the sort of horrors you will experience when you go to Tyumen, Then at The Robert Gill Theatre.

If Saturday Night Live was anything other than a photo-op for Tina Fey, this is the sort of thing they would be doing. Instead, this play is actually witty and a lot of fun to watch. It’s the sort of thing that one would expect Stephen Colbert to produce.

Tyumen, Then tells the story of two Soviet comrades guarding the corpse of Vladimir Lenin as it is transported via train from Moscow to Siberia. The comrades like to smoke as they transport the icon.

Ivan (Kevin MacDonald) and Dmitri (Lyon Smith) are contrasting personalities. It’s kind of like Two and a Half Men with the scariest version of Clint Eastwood you can imagine replacing Charlie Sheen.

Lenin turns out to be a deadpan cut-up. He’s been dead for a couple of decades and his brain is nearly as scrambled as President Reagan’s was.

Tyumen, Then is fantastic satire, along the lines of cold war cartoons like Roger Ramjet. It is incredibly clever and can be appreciated on several levels. Children will love it, as will academics. Playwright Adam Underwood has created something truly special.

One of litmus tests for a play is whether or not one ponders what they just saw on stage after leaving the theatre.  While riding the streetcar on the way home, we passed a garbage truck.

One of the sanitation workers was smoking, like Ivan and Dmitri. The truck was leaking filth and smelt like warmed-over death. Billionaire egomaniacs like Conrad Black might compare this image to the play. They might compare Lenin to garbage. After all, it was public workers providing the service, moving filth, moving Lenin at taxpayers’ expense. There’s really no predicting what incarcerated cartoon characters will do though!

Another good reason to see Tyumen, Then is because it has been specially selected as a fundraiser for Fringe. Be a comrade! Get out there and help surpass the goal of raising $2000!


Tyumen, Then is playing at Robert Gill Theatre during Fringe

Warning: Smoking, Graphic Violence
60 min.

Fri, July 8 11:00 PM
Mon, July 11 8:45 PM
Tue, July 12 4:30 PM
Wed, July 13 12:15 PM
Thu, July 14 7:00 PM
Fri, July 15 6:15 PM
Sat, July 16 1:45 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

Photo of Kevin MacDonald, Adam Lazarus and Lyon Smith