Small Wooden Shoe’s Summer Spectacular is a site-specific promenade performance taking place in Frankel Lambert Park in Toronto’s Wychwood neighbourhood as part of The Toronto Fringe Festival. The show’s title is perhaps a bit of a misnomer; it’s not particularly summer-themed nor is it a “spectacular” in the traditional sense. In fact it’s quite an intimate experience.
After congregating just inside the entrance of the park off Christie Street, the audience is greeted by a figure on stilts; show creator Jacob Zimmer, who divides the audience into three smaller groups each to be guided by a different performer for the duration of the performance; Sochi Fried, Christopher Stanton, and Georgina Beaty.
The guides take their respective groups on short walks throughout the park stopping at different stations to tell three parallel narratives while passing around a series of objects and 3D-printed props relating to the stories.
The narratives; one sourced from Greek mythology, Daedalus and Icarus, one from recent events, the tragic story of brilliant computer programmer and hacktivist Aaron Swartz and the third about an environmental scientist, are thematically interwoven and explore concepts like the nature of genius, the insouciance of youth and the oppressiveness of political and corporate structures. The juxtapositions created in telling these stories side-by-side are thought-provoking.
The evening’s events culminate as the three groups reconvene for a final story from Jacob Zimmer, starring a character loosely based on Robert Oppenheimer, told using whimsical if somewhat awkward and unwieldy giant papier-mâché puppets.
Summer Spectacular is story time for grown ups! While it’s a much more low-key affair, than the grandiose setting and the title might lead you to believe I thought it was a great opportunity to spend a summer evening walking around a park, sitting on the grass, singing as a group (audience participation alert) and listening to stories that make you think.
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LATECOMERS ARE NEVER ADMITTED TO FRINGE SHOWS. To avoid disappointment, be sure to arrive a few minutes before curtain.
Image of the poster provided by the company