Kicking off Fringe with an inter-temporal bang!
What do you get when you combine time travel, social commentary and an introspective look at one gay man’s coming of age story? Well, you end up with Do These Pants Make Me Look Fat’s contribution for this year’s Toronto Fringe entitled, The Effects of Time Travel on Neurotic Homos.
Based on the premise of what would happen when a person’s past and present selves are brought together, this play, which runs at the George Ignatieff Theatre, chronicled one gay man’s regrets and triumphs during a 20-year span.
The writing was strong, and the social commentaries were often hilarious and spot-on. It was a candid and personal portrayal of one man’s struggle to find self-acceptance. And throughout the performance, there were quite a few comedic gems like, “Mean people go to hell, but sassy people get bought free drinks.”
At times, however, the direction of the show’s narrative was a bit lacking. Just when the play bordered on comedic genius or heart-warming introspection, the tone would change rather abruptly. Ideas which should have been further developed (like what “love” or “monogamy” meant to the characters) were simply brushed over in what felt like an attempt to just cover as many subject areas as possible. So, seeing how the theme of this play centred on providing advice, maybe the biggest lesson to be learned here is that sometimes it’s less important to be a jack of all trades than to actually become a master of one.
It should be noted that, individually, the cast’s performances were polished and well-acted. Playwright Neil Cameron delivered an endearing performance as the jaded 35-year-old self who only wanted the best for his younger counterparts. And for his part, Keith McCallum was rather convincing as a 15-year-old. The conviction with which he portrayed the naiveté of youth could only be described as infectious. But the standout star of the night was Nadine Schuster who was given the unlikely task of portraying a pencil-pushing 25-year-old corporate ladder-climber. It takes a real talent to be able to spew a mouthful of marketing jargon, but she came off as sincere and easily relatable.
While 80 minutes seemed a bit long for this production (given the lack of clear narrative direction and non sequitur parts that seemed to just drag on), it was peppered with life lessons and unique insights into one man’s journey from awkward, questioning teenager to a thirty-something who, despite his many regrets, has finally become comfortable in his own skin as an openly gay man.
For that reason alone, The Effects of Time Travel on Neurotic Homos is still worth seeing at this year’s festival.
Play Length: 80 minutes
- Wednesday, July 3 at 10:30 p.m.
- Saturday, July 6 at 5:15 p.m.
- Monday, July 8 at 8:00 p.m.
- Tuesday, July 9 at 3:00 p.m.
- Thursday, July 11 at 12:00 p.m.
- Friday, July 12 at 8:45 p.m.
- Saturday, July 13 at 4:00 p.m.
- Individual Fringe tickets are available at the door for $10 ($5 for FringeKids), cash only. Late comers will not be permitted.
- Advance tickets are $11 ($9 + $2 service charge) and are available online at fringetoronto.com, by phone at 416-966-1062 EXT 1, or in person during the festival at the Festival Box Office at 581 Bloor St W (located in the parking lot behind Honest Ed’s). Value packs are available if you plan to see at least 5 shows.
Photo courtesy of Air’leth Aodhfin.