The Dark Fantastic (Martin Dockery) 2014 Toronto Fringe Review


Martin Dockery returns with his latest show, very aptly named The Dark Fantastic. In a macabre twist, he has steered away from his usual one man autobiography, and has served up a unique and mysterious tale of the unexpected.


Dockery begins the story as a black figure in a cowboy hat and sits in the dark for the opening of the show. Accompanied by moody trance music, he starts to retell a story that seems to come from a dream world, taking us on a journey that conjures up a menacing and genuinely fantastic tale. It put me in mind of a short film, perhaps by Lynch or Tarantino.

The vivid, crisp writing is delivered with a dramatic flair. Dockery uses his voice to lure us into descriptive passages that sometimes lead us up dark alleys. The Man, the main character, tells us about his quest for maternal love, and seems to be retelling the strange circumstances of his birth. He even shares a possible prediction of his own death.

This is a show that keeps you guessing and on your toes. Don’t go if you are sleepy. You will need all your wits about you to engage with this imaginative storyteller – I felt somewhat disconnected at times. And although the music was beautiful, I felt it somehow could often overpower the words.

Also, there were moments when Dockery’s use of his body, which enhanced the performance, could have been used to even better effect. I wish he would have left the table and moved around, as he seemed so restricted by sitting down. Perhaps an outside eye, in the shape of a director, would have given the show more shape and tension?

A show that will haunt you and make you question reality is a rare one. A story that leads you from the desert to the building of Rome, to impregnation on a photocopier, to the story of Romulus and Remus and their lupine  mother, and a last chance at redemption is intriguing to say the least.

You will definitely be asking questions at the end of this one. The narrative may not always be clear, but it is worth your attention.


The Dark Fantastic plays at the Al Green Theatre. (750 Spadina Ave. Near Bloor and Spadina)

show times
July 03 at 08:15 PM
July 04 at 03:00 PM
July 06 at 04:45 PM
July 07 at 02:45 PM
July 08 at 10:30 PM
July 11 at 11:30 PM
July 12 at 07:30 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 Martin Dockery provided by company.