Review: Friends and Outsiders (Birdtown and Swanville)

Big, honest talent brings theatrical joy to Toronto’s Videofag thanks to Birdtown and Swanville

In a very small white cube of gallery space, I sit as an outsider among friends. It feels like I’ve walked in on somebody else’s cozy gathering of long-time playmates: it’s a reunion of some very funny people and I am now a willing confidante. I receive a warm welcome from Birdtown and Swanville’s Nika Mistruzzi and as the pieces that comprise Friends and Outsiders go on, I understand more deeply why those in company seem all to be so happy.

 The program is chock full of understated talent, the incredible result of bringing together a highly compatible set of artists to just do their thing. In a very casual setting, the artists get up from their seats in the audience and cross the imaginary line that borders the ‘stage’, where they suddenly reveal their intellectual alter-egos. The set doesn’t change, there is only the room we started in. But the ability of the shows to take me on a whirlwind through the artists’ very personal landscapes is remarkable.

It is this very sincere production of themselves that makes each of the works so endearingly funny. One after another, the self-proclaimed ‘artistic weirdos’ (and I completely agree, ‘weirdos’ in the healthiest sense and celebration of individuality) bare their acts of various media, naked and unabashed. They all give us a peek at what makes him or her unique and humour is definitely a trait of every one. I, myself, am hopelessly enamoured by Bridget Moser,whose one-artist role play of herself is so hopelessly intelligent. At first I try to keep my laughter to a 30cm lifespan, but then I realize that there is absolutely no need: the gallery cheers with joy.

This is a smart and inspired bunch that will ask of you to do the same – live a little! they seem to say. There’s a ‘why not?’ around every corner. Why not create a space for your friends (and strangers) to show off what makes them so beautiful? Why not take off all your clothes at the bank? Why not rebel by Doing It Yourself?

The lineup includes a short film, 3 one-artist acts, a live-action board game, and Birdtown and Swanville’s own The Lee Press on Nail Play. It’s an evening that reminds me how much I love my friends (not that much reminding is needed, but it’s fun to remember).

There’s also beer and it isn’t too muggy inside. Why not?


  • Friends and Outsiders runs June 21-23 at Videofag (187 Augusta Avenue)
  • Shows are on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at 8pm
  • Tickets are $10 at the door