In Princess Sparkly Butt (part of the FringeKids! lineup at the Toronto Fringe Festival), the titular Princess Kimberly discovers she has the power to control time with her enormous caboose. Blessed with this ample gift, she sets off to defeat a monster, save her planet, and convince her mother that she can be more than some Space Prince’s wife.
This is a high-octane premise for a show, full of goodies and practically tailored for FringeKids, but I found it just didn’t gel. The first sign of trouble is the opening musical number, which sucked all the energy out of the room: the audio is much too loud to hear the singing, the song is light on both jokes and plot, and while I appreciated the tribute to mid-90s kids’ TV (I’m thinking they ripped off something from Pokemon?), I’m not sure what that’s supposed to mean to an audience who were mostly born between 2002 and 2010.
The supporting cast does give it some oomph: Ingrid Hansen, playing an acrobatic monster, frightened and delighted the kiddywinks in equal measure and found belly-laughs in unexpected places, while Jane McLelland, as the queen, sings the only song which belongs in the show, and gets laughs and cheers for doing it.
This is not to say the leads (Kimberly Persona as Princess Kimberly; DJ Edwards as the Hot Dog Kid) are untalented: they bring energy to their roles and are utterly game for it, but the material lets them down. Aside from a few sight gags and general riffing on the subject of butts (which was actually a little light on the ground), the George Ignatieff was silent as the grave: even when the kids are explicitly invited to make fart noises, I don’t think the cast got the reaction they’d hoped for.
We can’t hear the songs, but once you figure out that they’re pointless, you stop caring. They become a lengthy bridge to the next plot point, something you tune out while you plan dinner. And after a while, I was doing that with the whole show, simply beyond caring about the fussy plot. (I can only imagine how the 8-year-olds were keeping up.) Once you lose an audience like that, you don’t get them back — not even if you turn into a hot dog.
- The Crazy Space Adventures of Princess Sparkly Butt and the Hot Dog Kid is playing until July 11 at the George Ignatieff Theatre. (15 Devonshire Place)
- Tickets are $12 in advance, $10 at the door, $5 for young people. The festival also offers a range of money-saving passes for serious Fringers.
- Tickets can be purchased online, by phone (416-966-1062), from the festival box office down Honest Ed’s Alley (581 Bloor West), or from the venue box office starting one hour before the peformance. Venue sales are cash-only.
- Be advised that Fringe performances always start exactly on time, and latecomers are never admitted. Set your watch to CBC time, and arrive a few minutes early to avoid disappointment.
Cast photograph by Alistair Newton.