The No Bull$#!% History of Canada (The House of Style) Toronto Fringe 2012 Review

I kicked off my Toronto 2012 Fringe Festival experience with tonight’s opening night performance of The No Bull$#!% History of Canada at the Theatre Passe Muraille Backspace (Venue 10/11) and what a great way to begin!

Having previously seen Kyle Allatt perform with the raunchy, but hilarious Montréal-based sketch comedy troupe The Dancing Cock Brothers as well as having listened to his broadcast work in The Gung Horse Podcast, I expected great things. And that’s exactly what I got.

As I took my seat in the small, intimate theatre, and could see that the stage was adorned with Canadian flags – and a statue of a beaver, I must admit I wasn’t very optimistic at the start. I expected the next hour to be something of a re-hash of typical Canadian stereotypes and clichés.

But boy was I wrong. This one-man show about – well, the title says it all – was both humourous and informative all at the same time. In this original and entertaining history lesson, we learn and laugh about the 9 most ‘interesting’ Canadians.

An extremely unlikely bunch, these people range from Martin Frobisher – who thought he discovered gold but it was really gravel; John A. Macdonald; The other PMs – Jean Chrétien, Kim Campbell, Brian Mulroney, and of course Stephen Harper; and Charles Tupper – Canada’s worst and most ineffectual Prime Minister.

Jam-packed with information and amusing at the same time, there were moments where I didn’t even want to laugh at Kyle Allatt’s jokes in case I missed the next tidbit of information. It’s really quite astonishing how much history was covered in 55 minutes, and yet I didn’t feel at all like it was information overload. In fact, I couldn’t believe I was having this much fun in a history lesson.

The historical events described in the show are familiar to most Canadians, but it’s the funny, little, unknown details that Mr. Allatt manages to draw attention to in such a sarcastic and hysterical way that demystify and encourage us not to take things so seriously. The bit about the length of time it took a soldier to reload a rifle in the 1750s and the description of the Battle of the Plains of Abraham were particularly hilarious.

Following a recent, successful run at the 2012 Montréal Fringe Festival, this show is truly a well-oiled machine. Extremely well-rehearsed, flawless comedic timing, and impressive use of dialects, this production held the attention of its’ audience throughout, without any gaps. It did not try to do too much, but just enough. If only my high school history class had been this much fun…

Details

The No Bull$#!% History of Canada plays at the Theatre Passe Muraille Backspace (Venue 10/11) at 16 Ryerson Avenue
– The show is playing July 06 at 01:15 PM, July 08 at 09:45 PM, July 09 at 04:00 PM, July 10 at 10:15 PM, July 12 at 06:15 PM, July 13 at 05:15 PM, July 14 at 01:00 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