Einstein! is Jack Fry’s tribute to Albert Einstein—the scientist, the father, the husband. It has stopped here at the Toronto Fringe Festival on its current tour. The material is well researched and the production competently executed… and yet the whole thing rang false to me.
As Einstein, Jack Fry first pops out from the wings in a multi-coloured, swirling warp effect as the Twilight Zone theme plays. What follows is fairly standard one-man show schtick. He shifts back and forth, bouncing from one voice to another, as he dramatizes Einstein’s struggles with his family and the scientific community.
If you’re not familiar with the specifics of Einstein’s personal life or the problems he faced proving his general theory of relativity, then this show will certainly be informative. But for me, the content of this show felt too strategic.
The drama is clichéd and forced, to the extent that it seemed goofy. The musical score is heavy handed and sappy. Director Tom Blomquist is going for a cinematic effect, and there are some visually stunning moments, but it all felt cloying to me.
The show is too packaged and branded for my taste. Fry has obviously inserted Canadian references into the dialogue to appeal to this particular audience. I could have done without Einstein mentioning “beaver tails” and “Canadian schoolgirls.”
Most of the humour is reliant on pop culture references. The funny bits, more often than not, are hearing this historical figure mention celebrities like Justin Bieber or modern devices like iPads. I’m not a fan of this particular comedic device. References are not jokes. Einstein lived in the past, smartphones exist in the present—what’s funny about that?
St. Vlad’s is a relatively small space; why the production team felt it necessary to mic Mr. Fry is beyond me. I find it hard to believe he couldn’t project out twenty or so feet. Perhaps it was required to effectively mix all of the sound elements (there is a lot of score), but if that’s the case, it backfired because the crackles and pops are distracting.
There is ample charm in this show’s intentions, but it didn’t hit any of the right notes for me.
Einstein! plays at the St. Vlad’s Theatre (620 Spadina Ave, Spadina near Harbord)
July 04 at 07:00 PM
July 05 at 05:45 PM
July 07 at 10:30 PM
July 08 at 08:30 PM
July 09 at 12:15 PM
July 11 at 04:00 PM
July 12 at 10:30 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.
Image of Jack Fry provided by the company.