You can’t walk through the Fringe Club without getting hit in the face four or five times by someone waving pamphlets for their sketch comedy show. But Fringe is nothing if not Toronto’s most bubbly cesspool of variety, and no two sketch shows are created equal. Rulers of the Universe: A Love Story, sets itself apart at this year’s Toronto Fringe Festival with its top-notch original writing, a solid cast, and an infectious sense of camaraderie.
Sketch lives or dies by the troupe, and Rulers of the Universe brings serious talent to the table. Kat Letwin opens the show with a laid-back, folksy confidence that sets the tone for much of what follows. Nkasi Ogbonnah lights up the stage with a fervour for Greek mythology and Costco Gold Card holders.
Jeremy Woodcock’s awkward, muttering overdub of a gangster movie’s vulgarities to appease a “very important movie executive” will probably rank as one of my highlights of this year’s Fringe. Disarmingly bashful, he can make you laugh effortlessly, even if you, like me, are a dour, humourless prick. I resent him for the new lease he’s given me on life and its possibilities for unexpected moments of joy.
One could go on, but why. Sketch comedies are like snowflakes, or Rob Ford’s encounters with the press: no two are exactly alike, but they all follow a predictable pattern. We endure their ubiquity because some childish part of us is always hungry for more. Rulers of the Universe: A Love Story holds true to the best elements of the genre, while offering up enough originality to ensure the sixty-odd minutes of your time is time well spent.
Rulers of the Universe: A Love Story is playing until July 12, 2014 at the Helen Gardiner Phelan Playhouse (79 Saint George St.)
July 05 at 07:30 PM
July 06 at 09:00 PM
July 08 at 10:30 PM
July 09 at 05:45 PM
July 10 at 12:15 PM
July 12 at 11:00 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 provided by Rulers of the Universe