Climbing Mount Rumsfeld (Next Play) 2014 Toronto Fringe Review

If you’re a theatre person, and/or if you’re a political type who can (and will) pull any conversation around to the War on Terror, you’ll enjoy Climbing Mount Rumsfeld (Next Play). It’s written and performed by Joe Hamilton—who is both kinds of people—playing now at the Toronto Fringe Festival.

Let me just be clear, I used to be both kinds of people. You can never stop being a theatre person, though you may find yourself outside of the clique. I had to let go of politics and conspiracy theories because it literally turned me into one of the characters that shows up at the end of this comedy, wandering around by a mental hospital, quoting Donald Rumsfeld.

So this is a performance that is about the process of writing a play that gets written and performed back in 2007. A play, the writing process of which Joe Hamilton wrote about, is read from a tiny yet very tall desk in the Tarragon Solo Room.  There’s this line I loved: “The act of creation is, after all, acting out who you are.”

There’s a lot of that kind of logical loopiness and enjoyable wordplay in this work. Also jokes about goddamn actors and lazy writers, always great. There’s Doonsbury and rock’n’roll, and Donald Rumsfeld loops in like a character from a nightmare. For instance, Joe’s talking about some actress named Gabby, whom I assume is the lady who laughs loudly every time Gabby gets mentioned, and then he’s mentioning a groovy band all of a sudden he’s talking about Donald Rumsfeld again. But it passes and we get back to roadtrips and moving, and oh yeah, becoming a playwright and writing a great first play.

If you’re going to listen to a story about people you don’t know making a show you didn’t see, and the writer/actor insists on quoting Donald Rumsfeld in a smart and also leftist-politics-gone-too-far way (which may or may not be conscious; we’ll never know if he knows), you’re glad that the performer is both an excellent writer and also a fantastic reader of his own work. Droll delivery and hilarious hijinx mixed with a voice made for an award-winning podcast make you feel like you’re listening to something really big.


Climbing Mount Rumsfeld plays at the Tarragon Solo Room. (30 Bridgman Ave.)

show times

July 04 at 03:00 PM
July 05 at 05:00 PM
July 06 at 01:00 PM
July 09 at 08:15 PM
July 11 at 08:45 PM
July 12 at 04:30 PM
July 13 at 05:45 PM

Show length: 55min.

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.

Photo provided by company