The Hatter (Spired Productions) 2013 Toronto Fringe Review

hatterDear Andrew Wade (Writer, Performer, Tea Sommelier),

I liked The Hatter. Really, I did. Your Fringe tea party, which plays at the Tarragon, hits the right notes: it never takes itself too seriously; it shows a clear mastery of the style and text; and it flatters you as a performer, allowing you to play to your obvious and considerable strengths.

And you had us eating out of the palm of your hand, man. We wanted to love you! We did love you! You’ve crafted a fascinating, frantic, engaging character who can draw our attention by simply being in the space, and you should be very, very proud of that.

But having done this, why do you insist on making him jump through hoops?

I get it: there’s a plot here. And it’s a decent one. The Mad Hatter has tumbled out of the looking glass and into our mundane world, where he now battles a highly unconventional midlife crisis.

But from where I was sitting, you did your best work at your moments of wild and reckless abandon: did you notice how, any time you got to improvise, the audience would involuntarily lean forward in their seats? I know actors who would kill their own mothers to have an audience do that for them. It’s great!

And then you push them away by halting the scene, reeling it all back in, rushing back to this plot. This character–your Hatter–is far better developed than this story, and easily stands on his own two feet without this frame holding him up. By taking such a strong character and forcing him through this under-developed device, I thought you brought down the entire performance–and this performance is far too good to lose points for silly reasons like that.

We want to ride that wave with you, Andrew. We want to share in the joy you clearly take from working with a lively audience, from the unpredictability of live theatre, from the freedom you have when you aren’t dependent on light and sound cues to convey your message. When you get out there and act freely, the effect is phenomenal.

You don’t need the frame, Andrew. Let the Hatter be free.


Mike Anderson,
Mooney on Theatre

PS: The Jabberwocky alone is worth the price of admission.


The Hatter plays at the Tarragon Theatre Extra Space. (30 Bridgman Ave.)
Remaining Performances
  • July 06 03:30 PM
  • July 07 04:45 PM
  • July 10 05:45 PM
  • July 11 03:30 PM
  • July 12 01:45 PM
  • July 14 07:30 PM
  • Tickets for all Mainstage productions are $10 at the door, cash only.
  • Advance tickets are $11, and can be purchased online, by phone (416-966-1062 ext. 1), or from the festival box office at the Fringe Club. (Rear of Honest Ed’s, 581 Bloor St. West)
  • Money-saving value packs are also available; see website for details.
  • LATECOMERS ARE NEVER ADMITTED TO FRINGE SHOWS. To avoid disappointment, be sure to arrive a few minutes before curtain.

Photograph of Andrew Wade provided by the company.

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