I’m going to have to start this review by admitting that I hold an embarrassingly unpopular opinion: I don’t really get the appeal of Pulp Fiction. That being said, I thoroughly enjoyed the Beyond the Mountain production of Bard Fiction that made its Toronto Fringe Festival debut tonight.
My problem with the Quentin Tarantino film is that it’s – well – a work of pulp fiction. As such, it’s mean to be bland and loosely plotted and that aesthetic has just never been exciting enough to work for me. However, Bard Fiction has a gimmick that Pulp Fiction doesn’t: Bard Fiction is a retelling of Pulp Fiction in Shakespearean English set in the Elizabethan Era.
This conceit is what made the production memorable. It felt to me like watching an original Shakespeare comedy being performed for the first time. It’s bawdy and goofy and makes the right amount of pop culture jokes using the most hilarious celebrity impressions.
Cameron Sedgwick’s spot on impersonation of a Shakespearean Christopher Walken is a marvelous comedic gem, as is Kareem Alleyne’s Shakespearean Samuel L. Jackson impression when he does the film’s famous Ezekiel 25:17 speech in Elizabethan English. Both rightfully earned uproarious laughter from the audience.
And Melanie Michaud’s costumes are truly works of art. They combine some modern and Elizabethan aesthetics, like the Hawaiian shirt pattern on Kyle Allatt’s Pumpkinpie’s Elizabethan shirt. I loved Louis-Phillipe Sporn’s Butch character’s doublet, which was made out of a pair of blue jeans. The costuming for this show was ingenious.
Aaron Greer, Ben Tallen, and Brian Watson-Jones’ script for this show is similarly ingenious. I felt like they truly captured the essence of Tarantino’s script and translated it naturally and believably into Shakespearean English. Every line felt authentically Elizabethan, even when you could hear the modern English Pulp Fiction lines echoing through them.
The play certainly has a novelty and accessibility that make it an ideal suggestion for any Fringe Festival goer, but I feel that personally, because of the genre, this production will ultimately prove to be just as forgettable as Tarantino’s film was for me. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t fun to watch, it’s just not exactly my cup of tea.
Still, I say, “Go see it.” You might get more out of it if you’re familiar with the movie, but I think it will still appeal to those Fringe goers who are not. You won’t regret spending the time or money on this enjoyable night out and you just might love it.
July 04 at 08:45 PM
July 05 at 07:30 PM
July 06 at 03:00 PM
July 07 at 01:00 PM
July 09 at 05:45 PM
July 10 at 11:30 PM
July 11 at 05:15 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 courtesy of the production.