The Last Rock N’ Roll Show (Charcoal Sketch Productions) 2011 Toronto Fringe Review

I’m going to start by saying I can’t be unbiased in this review. There’s not much for me not to like in Jeff Jones’ The Last Rock N’ Roll Show, especially as a writer who counts one of her favorite moments in life as the day she won tickets to see Rammstein four hours before the show. Am I typing with my right hand while my left hand curls into metal horns at the memory? Yes.

The Last Rock N’ Roll Show starts with Alanna (Dayna Chernoff), a lover of all things rock and music columnist for NOW magazine. On her last day of the job, she recounts her torrid love affair with the genre.

While she muses on her young and impressionable years sneaking out of her bedroom window to be exposed to the tantalizing world of rock for the first time, she sits back in her seat and recalls that first band. That first band takes to the stage to accent her monologue with a full performance, complete with light show, for the audience.

Alanna starts with love at first sight and the starry-eyed passion that follows: the rush of seeing new bands, the electricity pouring out of every guitar riff and lyric feeding into the crowd of thousands. The adrenaline rush is the perfect drug that sends her to a new show every week.

That same energy that once lead her to sound off on a young Spice Girls fan wearing a Johnny Cash t-shirt ultimately landed her the NOW position. (Hm, perhaps I should be more vocal towards those Justin Bieber fans…)

Like every proper dysfunctional relationship, you start to learn things about your lover that turn you off. Soon, Alanna is exposed to the dark underbelly of the rock world – the sex and drugs (more so the drugs) of that unholy trinity. It’s a revelation that provides a foothold for her to stab at a few noteworthy bands (Oasis) and comment on the downfall of rock legends falling victim to their own fame.

As for the band, they’re not just there to provide canned soundtrack – they’re a bonafide rock band with real musical chops. I don’t have a name for them (I wish I did) but I can tell you that they are Jeff Jones, Bram Cayne, Danielle Kolenko, Daniel MacEachern, and Amelia Pipher. The band itself is worth the listen to as their songs provide the answer, the other side of the argument, to Alanna’s lamentation.

At the end we are left with this, what do you value? Is the soul of rock and roll still alive and kicking or has music, even writing about music, become lost to the demons of merchandising, ticket sales, commercial backing and that creature that lives in the bottom of a Jack Daniels bottle? I still hope it hasn’t.

Details

– The Last Rock n’ Roll Show is showing at the Bathurst Street Theatre (736 Bathurst St).

Performances

July 6 – 8:45 pm
July 9 – 12 pm
July 10 – 7 pm
July 11 – 3 pm
July 13 – 11 pm
July 15 – 1:45 pm
July 16 – 9:15 pm

Tickets

– Individual Fringe tickets are available at the door for $10 ($5 for FringeKids), cash only. Late comers will not be permitted.
– Tickets are also available online at fringetoronto.com, by phone at 416-966-1062, or in person at The Fringe Test, 581 Bloor St. W (Advance tickets are $11 – $10 + $1 convenience fee)
– Money saving passes are available if you plan to see at least 5 shows.

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