Pardon Me Cow (Farm Fresh Productions) 2014 Toronto Fringe Review

shot 1

Pardon Me Cow by Farm Fresh Productions, playing as part of the Toronto Fringe Festival, is a fast-paced one man show about growing up, and coming out, on the farm. When his family leaves town for greener pastures, Taylor Scott’s life gets turned upside-down: stripped of the modest luxuries of town life, he finds himself crushing on the dishy veterinarian, mastering his farmer’s blow, and befriending Nadia, a cow who may or may not be a bit of a queer steer herself.

This show has a lot going for it. Many of the jokes are piss-your-pants funny, and judging by the reactions of the queerer-than-average audience, an awful lot of people identify with Scott’s life story: his anecdotes can be as engaging and twisted as Scott Thompson in full flight. From my perspective, it seemed like if you can find that connection with the narrator–a litmus test: can you sing the Wonder Woman theme song from memory?–you’ll have a roaring good time.

And, truth be told, I enjoyed a lot of this show.

But I also found what I consider to be significant problems, and these more or less spoiled the experience for me.

A lot of the humour struck me as almost paint-by-numbers. Gary Coleman, ha-ha-ha. Kim Kardashian, ha-ha-ha. “Kids these days”, ha-ha-ha. When he got to the Jew jokes, I was just about ready to shout “Bingo!” and claim my $50.

A small but significant portion of the evening was spent going after targets I found downright distasteful. I just don’t take kindly to taunting people with clinical depression, nor do I think people with bipolar disorder need to be “put in their place”. Hearing these jokes set off a mental record scratch in my head.

Aside from this cringe-factor stuff, though, I also felt that this show lacked focus. One anecdote tumbles into the next one without any particular narrative or story. They’re mostly linked to farm life, and they’re mostly linked to queerness, but the stories don’t really join up in any discernible way: they aren’t told in chronological order, they aren’t linked into a process of maturing or growing, and while the blurb makes claims about how these experiences shaped Scott’s current worldview and personality, I wasn’t left with the impression that he explored this to any real depth.

This is a common problem with one-handers; bringing a director or dramaturge on-board would probably have helped give it more form and focus.

On a technical note, this show ran just 40 minutes on opening night, not the published 60.

Details

Pardon Me Cow plays the Helen Gardiner Phelan Playhouse. (79 St. George Street, off the pedestrian walkway.)

Performance Dates:
July 05 at 03:30 PM
July 06 at 01:30 PM
July 09 at 11:00 PM
July 10 at 11:15 PM
July 12 at 01:45 PM
July 13 at 04:00 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.

Photograph of Taylor Scott (and Nadia the Cow) provided by the company.