There’s something truly captivating about The Templeton Philharmonic’s Toronto Fringe Festival offering. Between the solid acting and the beguiling garden setting, An Evening in July is an accomplished piece that will make you laugh as much as it might make you weep.
A site-specific production that makes its home a little bit off the path of the usual Fringe venues, An Evening in July uses the backdrop of the darling St. George the Marty’s gardens. The audience is invited to tag along to follow an evening in the lives of two reclusive sisters, inspired by the Beale’s of Grey Gardens, who are in the process of planning a special party. As we follow their preparations, we’re treated to an intimate look into their lives and memories, their joys and struggles, and the one moment that changed their lives forever.
Gwynne Phillips and Briana Templeton have crafted a really intricate piece of theatre. Despite having felt that it took off to a bit of a slow start, the languid flavour of the show steadily picks up steam as it moves forward. I was enthralled with the two characters May and June before I even realized it.
I think the most striking aspects of this show lie in the details. From the authentically rich accents of the duo, to the props and set pieces deliberately spread around the garden and party room – in a haphazard way, of course. Each tidbit is a clue to who these characters are and the more you wander through them and explore before the show starts – they give you a good 11 minutes to do so – the more you might be able to piece together about the women.
It’s no mystery why The Templeton Philharmonic has won so many awards, specifically for sketch comedy. Their flow is impeccable and their delivery feels authentic and relaxed. There was a seamlessness between the parts that were scripted and those that were probably mostly improvised that was really impressive, and there were moments where I’m not even sure if they were improvising or just extremely well-rehearsed.
There is minimal audience participation, although it isn’t especially intensive and varies from picking specific audience members to incorporating all of us. Hey, who doesn’t want to take a quick interlude to play a huge game of cards or remember their schoolyard days playing Cat and Mouse with a parachute? For those who want to feel even more immersed in the party experience, there’s a pop-up bar as well.
The show is funny, certainly, but doesn’t go without an air of melancholy that strikes hardest at the end. I think it’s an inspired piece of theatre that might not sink in from the get-go, but will definitely hook you by the finish. If you’re looking for something completely different, though still very much accessible, then An Evening in July is one you shouldn’t miss.
An Evening in July plays at St. George the Martyr Anglican Church (205 John St.)
July 04 at 08:00 PM
July 06 at 08:00 PM
July 07 at 08:00 PM
July 08 at 08:00 PM
July 10 at 08:00 PM
July 11 at 05:30 PM
July 11 at 08:30 PM
July 12 at 05:30 PM
July 12 at 08:30 PM
July 13 at 08:00 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.
Photo of Gwynne Phillips and Briana Templeton by Shannon Laliberte.