Baker’s Dozen (Adam Squared Productions) 2014 Toronto Fringe Review


The case is hardly opened and closed in Adam Squared Productions’s Baker’s Dozen at the Toronto Fringe Festival. In fact, this production feels like it leaves too much out of the play for a full verdict.

Starting strong, Adam Francis Proulx as the lone-puppeteer is clearly in his element as he charismatically brings to life character after character. Not only does he do wonderful voice acting but some of his physical gags also dragged a few laughs out of me.

Too bad Proulx’s work fails to cover up the flaws in Baker’s Dozen. Examining the case of the Butcher on trial for the murder of the Baker, the show is concerned with the perception and judgment of gay men by others in society. From my perspective, it seemed that because the play never fully committed to its criticism of prejudice; it made what I saw as questionable narrative decisions, very pronounced.

The problem I personally had while watching Baker’s Dozen was that it felt like it was unaware that the material it was handling could be offensive. I understand that adult puppet shows will likely tackle mature subject matter but why does mature always translate into rape jokes and gay jokes?

This is a play that I believe wanted to be socially conscious but, to me, floundered repeatedly through poor narrative decisions. There were what felt like terrible female characters based on awful stereotypes, deep south jokes embodied in a ridiculous character that equated animals to gay people, and the ‘hero’ was the white straight male teen.

I really think if the show had been funny or I had felt deeply uncomfortable, I could say conclusively how I felt about it. Instead I judged Baker’s Dozen to be almost criminally lacking in voice. Proulx’s strength as a puppeteer was limited because most of the material bordered dangerously on offensive making it impossible for me to really engage with.

I think this what I generally found difficult about Baker’s Dozen on the whole. When Proulx had something intelligent to say, you could see the audience sit up and listen. But intent never excuses when a show crosses into offensive and that is what makes this frustrating. Proulx is clearly talented and he has an audience willing to listen but I wish I could stand by his message.

Baker’s Dozen plays at the Theatre Passe Muraille Backspace. (16 Ryerson Ave, at Wolseley).

July 04 at 04:45 PM
July 05 at 05:00 PM
July 07 at 11:00 PM
July 08 at 08:30 PM
July 09 at 03:00 PM
July 11 at 07:00 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.

 To avoid disappointment, be sure to arrive a few minutes before curtain.

Adam Francis Proulx and “Muffy” by Dahlia Katz