Everything Is Fine… (Haggard Bitch Productions) 2014 Toronto Fringe Review

shot 1

Everything Is Fine… brings together a cast of eight-count’-em-eight Second City alumni, under the direction of Fringe royalty Ken Hall, to make funny. This young company go after the targets they know best: hipsters, gentrification, annoying coworkers and early-thirtysomething angst. The laughs fill the room, and they’re well-deserved.

A lengthy trip to “party purgatory” features Allana Reoch and Gillian Bartolucci and some startling, come-from-nowhere insight; Marshall Lorenzo’s visit to Aroma is far, far funnier and more rewarding than any hangover sketch ought to be; and a full-company sequence dealing with the fixtures and features of the Ossington strip, while it has some uneven moments, moves at such a clip that any sins are immediately forgiven.

Nicky Nasrallah does a tremendous job as “Drama Mom”, but what I’m really going to remember about this production is ringmaster and producer Gillian Bartolucci, whose bad laughs alone are worth the price of a ticket.

There are a few misses: the big-finish tribute to Les Miserables veers into indulgence — how many people still remember Bread & Circus? — and a protracted bit about “Prime Minister Puppy” felt like an improv exercise that outgrew itself. I’m also not sure why they bothered with a pianist, scarcely using the talented Paul Crocker at all.

One note: this production bears almost no relationship to its promo materials or blurb. Anyone expecting a book show or a tightly-woven dancecard is going to go away disappointed. Come with an open mind and you’ll have a great time.

Details

Everything Is Fine… plays the Tarragon Mainspace. (30 Bridgman Avenue, near Bathurst and Bridgman.)

Performance Dates
July 05 at 12:00 PM
July 06 at 08:45 PM
July 07 at 10:15 PM
July 08 at 01:15 PM
July 09 at 11:00 PM
July 13 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.

Production photography by Liz Beddall.