Chasing Margaret Flatwood, making its debut at the Toronto Fringe Festival by local company Theatre Awakening, is a comedic look at Toronto celebrity culture. Guys, I didn’t even know Toronto had a celebrity culture.
The 85-minute comedy puts a local spin on all of those reality shows people can’t seem to get enough of, where really rich people do really terrible things, but somehow seem to use their lifestyle to justify it. In brief, there is a family battle going on between Olivia Moore and her stepmother Vivienne Moore, who represent the voices of the 99% and the 1%, respectively.
The idealistic Olivia is concerned about the shady business practices happening at her family’s multimillion dollar processed-meat company, whereas Vivienne is merely concerned what the bad press might do to her plans to hold the party of the century. Vivienne is the one who gives the play its title, as she chases Canadian literary icon “Maggie Flatwood” to get her to put in a star appearance at her event.
Overall, the show was really quite enjoyable. There’s probably nothing that playwright Robert Watson couldn’t turn into a pun. There are tons of fun jabs at Heather Reisman, Peter Mansbridge, Galen Weston (i.e. our celebrity culture). I think half the fun lies in the joke that it’s hard to make fun of Canadian culture, since in a way it does the job for us. As for the performers, Catherine McNally and Kimwun Perehinec seem to get the most fun playing the status-obsessed sisters Vivienne and Jazmin. They’re like a Canadian version of the Ab Fab duo.
If there is one thing I would have liked to see more of in a play called Chasing Margaret Flatwood, it’s Margaret Flatwood. She makes one appearance at the beginning, but otherwise she’s the Godot of this production – always mentioned, never seen. I mention this only to prevent those who might go in expecting to see more of an homage to Atwood’s dry personality, or to see a show with real insight into the state of Canadian literature. Chasing Margaret Flatwood is not that. This is a show about celebrity, not about this particular celebrity. But it’s still a pretty fun time.
Chasing Margaret Flatwood plays at the Campbell House (160 Queen St. W., at the corner of Queen St. W. and University Avenue.) The venue is not wheelchair accessible.
July 03 at 08:00 PM
July 04 at 08:00 PM
July 05 at 02:30 PM
July 05 at 08:00 PM
July 06 at 02:30 PM
July 08 at 08:00 PM
July 09 at 08:00 PM
July 10 at 08:00 PM
July 11 at 08:00 PM
July 12 at 02:30 PM
July 12 at 08:00 PM
July 13 at 02:30 PM
Tickets for all mainstage productions are $10 at the door, cash only. Advance tickets are $12, and can be purchased online, by phone (416-966-1062), 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 if you are going to at least five shows; see website for details.
LATECOMERS ARE NEVER ADMITTED TO FRINGE SHOWS. To avoid disappointment, be sure to arrive a few minutes before curtain.
Photo of Julia Lederer by Andrew Lamb.