It’s a hell of a thing to wind up on the front page of the Toronto Sun with the words “DEVIL” and “TERRORIST” printed under your face…especially if you’ve got a job interview later that day. But Lwam Ghebrehariat has a knack for turning pitfalls into upsides, or at the very least getting a good laugh out of them.
Lwam is Eritrea’s Greatest Hockey Player is the true story, told in stand-up comedy at the Toronto Fringe Festival, of one man’s journey through the not-so post-racial wonderland of Canada, a journey that took him from his childhood home in Alberta to the Tarragon Theatre Solo Room.
Reviewing comedy is often a perilous undertaking; a joke that might leave one viewer in stitches could just as easily bore or offend another. This is compounded by the fact that Lwam draws his anecdotes and punchlines from perpetually controversial topics, such as race relations in Canada. That being said, while it is unlikely that all audiences will respond as positively to his social commentary as I did, his dry witticisms on subjects such as parents demanding grandchildren, dating older women, and the trials and tribulations of the TTC will strike a chord with viewers from many walks of life.
However, race is unquestionably at the heart of this experience, and fair enough; even the short time I spent with Lwam was enough to clearly see that race has been at the heart of his experiences for his entire life. Canada has been proudly proclaiming itself to be a multicultural mosaic for longer than I’ve been alive, but how much of that is hot air?
Lwam has a lot to say on this subject, and as a man who might have had his legal career prematurely destroyed simply for starring in a politically unpopular play, he would know. Despite this, however, Lwam never preaches or pontificates; he simply tells stories with a smile.
At one point during the show, I noticed a rather young-looking child in the audience. I would personally advise against bringing young children along with you, however, as some of Lwam’s jokes deal with mature subject matter, including one segment that makes passing references to pedophilia (although I should clarify that there is no literal discussion of child sex abuse in the show whatsoever, and I am mentioning it only as a heads-up for potentially sensitive viewers). Lwam is never excessively crass or vulgar in his routine, but I would nevertheless say that his show is not the ideal place for kids.
Lwam’s is not a long show, but this is actually to its benefit, allowing the show to be pithy and quick. While I was never quite in stitches, Lwam is Eritrea’s Greatest Hockey Player is engaging all the way through, and is a genuine pleasure to watch.
Lwam is Eritrea’s Greatest Hockey Player is playing until July 12 at the Tarragon Solo Room (30 Bridgman Ave)
July 02 at 08:15 PM
July 05 at 01:30 PM
July 06 at 06:15 PM
July 07 at 04:00 PM
July 08 at 06:45 PM
July 10 at 09:45 PM
July 11 at 05:15 PM
July 12 at 09:45 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 provided by the company.