PornStar is one of the most buzzed-about productions at this year’s Toronto Fringe Festival, written by perennial Fringe favourite Chris Craddock (Bash’d) and performed by the artists behind Morro and Jasp, it sounds like a marriage of Fringe royalty.
PornStar is the story of Esther Kirkenchuk (Amy Lee), a librarian in the town of Elbow, Saskatchewan. The prim and proper Esther finds out that one of her past sexual encounters was secretly filmed when she receives an invitation to a pornography awards ceremony where she’s nominated for “Best Amateur Performer.”
She decides to attend the ceremony where she meets and develops a relationship with sex columnist Clarice Dubois (Sarah Mennell). Meanwhile, Esther’s mother Sharon (Lynne Griffin), a televangelist in the US, is advocating for Sarah Palin’s Presidential campaign and Esther’s younger sister Kate (Heather Marie Annis), who committed suicide at 14, is in Hell and plotting her escape. The set-up is deliciously ripe for satire!
The script is smart, funny and written in Craddock’s signature style blending wit, humour and political commentary. It’s subversive and satirical; chock full of gems like “The Tea Party, it’s like the Republican Party but for poor people,” but never strays into bluntly preachy territory.
Despite the subject matter, the show is never crude. It also doesn’t savagely skewer the religious right so much as displays it for what it is allowing the audience to laugh at its inherent ridiculousness.
Byron Laviolette’s direction keeps the pacing tight, the jokes land with a great rhythm and the show never drags despite darting back and fourth between three converging plot streams.
Amy Lee delivers a pitch-perfect performance as Esther, her comedic timing is spot on. Lee’s Esther is a perfect blend; simultaneously hilarious, quirky and completely endearing in a way where any leading lady in a Hollywood rom-com would want to beat her down with a stiletto heel out of sheer envy. You just want to tie a bow around her and take her home.
Given the hype and the calibre of the talent involved I went in to PornStar with some pretty high expectations. And you know what? Believe the hype, it’s a great show! It’s smart, funny, wickedly entertaining and definitely one of my picks for this year’s festival.
- PornStar plays at Venue 1, Tarragon Theatre Mainspace (30 Bridgman Ave.)
- Show times: July 06 07:00 PM, July 07 11:00 PM, July 09 02:45 PM, July 11 07:30 PM, July 12 02:15 PM, July 14 09:45 PM, July 15 03:30 PM
- All individual Fringe tickets are $10 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
– Photo of Heather Marie Annis, Lynne Griffin, Amy Lee and Sarah Mennell by Aviva Armour‐Ostroff.