Myth of the Ostrich (Offside Productions) 2014 Toronto Fringe Review

Myth of the Ostrich (Offside Productions) is a knockout comedy playing at this year’s Toronto Fringe Festival. It’s got sharp insight and laughs aplenty. I’m still giddy more than an hour later!

Right off the bat, you should know: I’m not really a fan of St. Vlad’s Theatre. If you’re not in the first two rows, your viewing experience is hit or miss. (Try to stay in front of the tall people.) This show is so compelling, though, the space—and my irritation with it—completely vanished.

We have three women, two of them mothers: Holly (a writer and progressive mom type), Pam (a stay at home Christian mom) and Cheryl (a drug dealer and foul-mouthed Newfie). It’s a classic comedy of manners, where contrasting personalities—and the social climates the breed them—clash and hilarity ensues.

It all starts out politely—and a little awkwardly—as Pam confronts Holly with a letter she’s found, written by her son for whom she thinks is his “girlfriend” (Holly’s “daughter”). You can tell by the quotes where this is going.

I was hesitant to mention their sons’ gay relationship for fear of spoiling it for you, but it’s revealed before the halfway point, and the real joy of the show is watching these women interact, not in finding out the (shhhh!) secret.

And these women are hilarious. As Holly, Astrid Van Wieren has captured that cool mom vibe, but she’s not all sass; she’s conscientious and attentive. At first, Pam seems to be that pearl-clutching, uptight stereotype too easily made fun of, but Alanis Peart has given her a certain dignity that shines. And finally, Renée Hackett is wild and endearing as a Holly’s brassy friend. (It’s great to hear that Newfoundland accent!)

It all feels genuinely Canadian in a comfy, rather than pandering, way.

The script is stellar. Penned by Matt Murray (who co-wrote the Best of Fringe 2011 Remember, Maggy?), it’s full of warmth and killer one-liners. Each character is a fascinating portrait. The story as a whole delves into the ethical and emotional consequences of parental awareness and control.

And there’s crazy antics: pot cookies, a blanket fort and a used condom! Enjoy!


Myth of the Ostrich plays at the St. Vlad’s Theatre (620 Spadina Ave, Spadina near Harbord)

Show times
July 02 at 10:00 PM
July 04 at 01:15 PM
July 06 at 03:30 PM
July 07 at 08:15 PM
July 08 at 04:30 PM
July 10 at 07:00 PM
July 13 at 04:30 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.

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

Photo of Astrid Van Wieren, Alanis Peart, Renée Hackett by Dila Velazques