Follow Your Fear, playing at Tarragon’s Solo Room as part of this year’s Fringe Festival, is an endearing piece. The title is very apt. Follow Your Fear is Todd Charron following his fear of performing a one-man unscripted show.
This means that every performance he will stand up alone in front of the audience with nothing prepared, other than (it seems) a roster of sound effects that tech might work into his piece. And he will stay there for 45 minutes to an hour.
If this sounds frightening to you, if it sounds like something you might be afraid of failing at and looking silly doing, then you will probably join me in congratulating Charron. He faced this fear!
However, if this is something you think you might be able to do yourself no sweat; you might be more critical of his performance than I am about to be.
I was personally pretty impressed. At the beginning Charron took one suggestion from the audience and from there spent the next hour weaving four separate storylines into one culminating whole.
He constructed a structurally complex narrative. On the spot. Playing at least two different characters in each scene. Improv, with only himself to feed off of.
It was a feat. An accomplishment. Courage to behold. Was it all that funny? Not really, but improv needn’t always be hilarious.
Still, good improv doesn’t develop in a vacuum. Interaction, either with other players or the audience, is key. Instead, Charron set up a scene that he was entirely in control of. After that first ask-for from the audience, everything came out of his own head.
As much as this was impressive, I think it lost a lot of the beauty that improv creates space for precisely because of lack of individual control.
Some of the funniest moments in Charron’s performance came when things went wrong, like inappropriately timed sound effects. His reactions to the few elements that occurred beyond his control stood out as special moments, and I think are very telling of what this piece could be like if he allowed more room for “the unexpected.”
The audience is unscripted theatre’s best friend. We’ve all come to an improv show because we want to participate! If Charron would perhaps lean on us a little more, something really magical might happen.
I love the idea, and I love the fearlessness it’s carried out with! Fringe is the perfect place to work on this act. I’m left inspired to commit to the personal projects I’ve been avoiding out of fear.
July 03 06:30 PM, July 05 04:45 PM, July 06 10:15 PM, July 07 02:45 PM, July 09 10:15 PM, July 10 10:00 PM, July 12 10:30 PM, July 13 08:00 PM
- Individual Fringe tickets ($10) are available during the festival, at St. Vladimir’s Theatre (1 hour prior to each performance), cash sales only. Latecomers will not be admitted.
- Advance $11 tickets available online at fringetoronto.com, by phone at 416.966.1062, ext. 1, or at the Festival Box Office in the parking lot behind Honest Ed’s (581 Bloor St. W).
- Value packs are available if you plan to see at least 5 shows.