Smart Food (Ray-Alan Productions) Toronto Fringe 2012 Review

There is nothing as oddly touching as the relationship between a man and his plastic skeleton. Smart Food (Ray-Alan Productions), playing at Annex Theatre, is the tale of Florence (Andy Ingram) and his inanimate friend, Frasier.

Florence is a young, somewhat angry youth, who has developed a (potentially unhealthy) dependence on his plastic skeleton who spends much time hidden in his duffle bag. When he does take him out, he confides in him at some length, confessing sins, feelings and personal epiphanies.

The set of Smart Food is Florence’s bedroom – and appears like you would expect of most 23-year-old male bedrooms – clothes scattered, paper debris that has been crumpled or transformed into paper airplanes, and a hastily made pile of bedsheets and pillow that form his bed.

The bane of Florence’s existence is his roommate, his sister, Donnie (Kelsey Jenkins), who constantly pops in at awkward moments, and although well-intentioned, is a tad overbearing. She storms in and out, amidst his insistence that he doesn’t need help and he is working on “homework” (aka confiding in Frasier).

One by one, Florence’s secrets come out, furtively at first, then more and more freely. He openly tells Frasier he considers him one of his closest friends; the only person ever to have come close is “Anthony”, with whom he had a relationship that clearly went very sour. You definitely see an arc in his relationship with Frasier – it appears our protagonist struggles with interpersonal relationships.

The performance is incredibly physical and full of life. Ingram plays a character that is quirky, yet loveable. I find one of the most important things in any show is feeling empathy for the characters, and wanting them to succeed. Although Florence constantly skitters near the edge between sanity and insanity, we want him to succeed, to find meaning, to absolve himself of the things that plague him and cause him guilt.

The show is short and sweet, only about forty minutes. Sure it’s a weird concept, but I really like what they did with it. You’ll laugh, you’ll be slightly weirded out, you’ll feel uncomfortable for him, and you’ll drop your jaw a few times, but I have a feeling that if you do go see it, you’ll really enjoy it.

 Details:

Smart Food plays at Annex Theatre, 730 Bathurst
– Show times: July 04 06:30 PM, July 06 10:30 PM, July 08 08:00 PM, July 11 12:00 PM, July 12 09:15 PM, July 13 11:30 PM, July 14 04:00 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 – $9 + $2 service charge)
– Value packs are available if you plan to see at least 5 shows