It’s the last weekend of Fringe! So, you’ve procrastinated and waited ‘til now to catch a show? Are you still deciding what you want to see? Well you’re in luck; our super-keen staff went out and reviewed all 141 shows* in the Toronto Fringe Festival by the end of the first weekend!
We already released one list of recommendations after our big push of reviews but now that we’ve had some time to pause, reflect and possibly recover from spending too many late nights at the Fringe Club beer tent, we’ve come up with a second set of staff picks. I mean, with so many shows in the festival who can pick just one favourite, right?
The second weekend of the festival is always the busier weekend, many shows are already regularly selling out so plan ahead, pre-book your tickets or get there early and line up. And, if the show you wanna see happens to be sold out, just go ahead and take a chance on something else. That’s the spirit of Fringe; taking a chance on something new.
More Mooney on Theatre Staff Picks – 2012 Toronto Fringe Festival
Sonia Borkar loved the concept of The Little Mermaid being performed as a belly dancing show. She was amazed at what the cast did with beautiful sheets of fabric and found the show to be visually stunning and magical; perfectly fitting for a fairy tale.
Wayne Leung continues to be haunted by Release the Stars: The Ballad of Randy and Evi Quaid. This show uses the outlandish real-life story of “Hollywood refugees” Randy and Evi Quaid as a jumping off point for what is ultimately a beautiful meditation on love, loss and letting go. The show is difficult to describe; it’s wonderfully layered and complex but in a fun and completely accessible way. The script is original, the performances are superb, it’s full of wit, humour and is surprisingly moving. He urges you not to miss this gem of a show!
Samantha Wu recommends England: A Play for Art Galleries. One of the main aspects of this show that piqued her interest was its site-specific use of 401 Richmond. This dual attributed monologue of a woman’s downward spiral as she comes to terms with her own mortality is illustrated by the space as the audience winds through hallways and stairs to explore this space seeing rooftop garden terraces and even a bird sanctuary. It’s certainly one of the more interesting and unique experiences you’ll likely to come across at this year’s Fringe Festival.
Dorianne Emmerton loved Dora Award-winning clowns Morro and Jasp’s take on Steinbeck’s grim Depression-era story in Of Mice And Morro And Jasp. The result is both hilarious and touching. Even if you haven’t read Of Mice And Men, or barely remember it from your high school curriculum, you will laugh, you will cheer and you may even get to throw something.
Avi Bendahan recommends Little Tongues. If you’re partial to peeking over other people’s shoulders and having ‘Oh no she/he didn’t!’ moments over and over, he thinks you might love Little Tongues almost as much as he did. The Loft 404 space used by “the blood project” is almost as much a character in this play as any played by the skillful cast, and you’ll love wandering around it deciding which bickering family member is your favourite.
Joanna Haughton liked A Madhouse Dramedy, which could be called Shakespeare of the absurd. Word play, and insane characters with nutty physicality. If you’re in the mood for a fun, quick moving, and quick witted play she suggests checking out this show about psychiatric patients dealing with their dead therapist.
Mara Gulens thinks TJ Dawe’s oh-so-personal Medicine is a life changer; an unexpected therapy with more heart than seems humanly possible. What’s even more amazing is that Dawe also inspires the same in his audience. The standing ovation ends up being a tribute to Dawe’s one-man show genius, as well as gratitude for his ability to share.
Sam Mooney saw Rare on opening night and loved it. It’s documentary theatre which may be new to some people. All nine cast members have Down Syndrome. Rare is their stories in their words, curated and directed by Judith Thompson. It’s a show full of joy. It’s been selling out so make sure you get there early to get tickets.
Mike Anderson has been thinking about The House of Bernarda Alba ever since he saw it; the beautiful movement, the outstanding acting, the clever staging and the compelling story. It’s rare to find a classic play on the fringe circuit, and this promising young cast deserve to be seen: don’t miss the opportunity!
George Perry really likes the play, The Contract. It’s experimental, uses multimedia and really made him think. It’s site-specific and the audience could not be closer to the action if they had speaking roles. It’s a play that people who see will remember in a good way. Besides, how great is it to sip a pint at The Cameron while seeing a play?
Mira Saraf recommends Temple of Khaos because you can’t not see a play about the demise of civilization told by four clowns 10,000 years into the future. Charming, hilarious and full of life, this show will leave your face and belly aching for hours after… from laughter. Don’t miss this one!
Candice Irwin had a lot of fun at Pluto’s Revenge. This dance/theatre show is a bundle of clever comedy, paired with tons of silliness. Something for both the young of age and heart the show follows Pluto on her quest to find friends after discovering that she isn’t truly a planet. Though part of the Fringe Dance Initiative, Pluto’s Revenge could just as easily slide into the theatre category with its rich characters and well-developed script. The fact that the cast members are also talented dancers is just an added bonus.
Tavish McGregor saw Buffering… last weekend and has been speaking in rhyming couplets ever since. A deft, timely comedy that doesn’t dumb itself down, this twisted fairytale asks: what happens when intellectual property rights trump the creative process? Answers are served up by a raucous cast of public domain characters – Witch, Princess, Fool – serenaded by a busker under subpoena for her rhymes. Co-writers/co-stars Amy Cunningham and Shauna Wooton subvert classic fairytale archetypes to hilarious effect. There’s poetry, wit, and just enough grit: when it comes to comedy, this show’s the shit. (Sorry.)
Lauren Stein recommends The Princess of Porn: The Musical. Imagine your favourite Disney movie, now mash it together with your favourite porn (you’re not fooling anyone pretending you’ve never watched before). What do you get? Lauren is pretty sure you’d come up with something similar, but not nearly as fun as The Princess of Porn: The Musical. A raunchy romp that features the classic Disney princesses we all know and love, as well as some other interesting, horny characters. With a slew of great voices, enjoyable dance numbers, and an ample amount of dildos, Lauren is sure you’ll get a rise out of it.
*The 141 shows we covered include all venue and site-specific shows and Alleyplays. Although the Fringe advertises 155 shows in total, that number includes the presentations in Visual Fringe which we cover separately in our Fringe Buzz.