Caitlin McCarthy plays a high school student named Erica in Deepest Darkest playing at this year’s Toronto Fringe Festival. Like every high school student in their final year, Erica has secrets. Deep dark secrets that she hasn’t told anyone and she just needs to get them off her chest. This one woman show is energetic, comical, and full of that awkward teenage angst that we all remember so well.
It starts with Erica in detention and she hasn’t been given permission to leave until she finishes an assignment — write a true anonymous confession. Something that the audience is also asked to do as they enter the Theatre Passe Muraille Mainspace. Throughout the show, Erica reads out the confessions and they do stay anonymous. Sometimes she will react to them, other times they’re simply used as a page break between stories.
Through Erica’s story she describes her bizarre and perplexing teachers, her zany guidance counselor, the girls at school, and her first boyfriend. All of whom serve to puzzle and irritate her further and further.
This show is fun, zany and sprinkled with laughs. The audience does play a part in the show so the crowd is asked to sit close to the stage. There was a point where Erica made eye contact with me and gestured that I should help hide her contraband, a bottle of Malibu rum. It’s a show filled with all those moments I remembered so well from my final high school year, figuring out sex, relationships, life choices, and that daunting question of what do you want to do with your life?
McCarthy’s enthusiasm, dedication to her character, maintaining her momentum through the hour-long show, and simple charm is what sells the show. You can’t help but warm to her instantly.
I also really enjoyed the lighting and music choices used throughout. Hats off to production designer Rae Takei for a fine job. The minimal small set (in what is otherwise a very large stage) drags out old memories of high school in the ’90s and early 2000s — an overhead projector, acetate sheets, the student desks with the cavernous inner compartment perfect for hiding notes passed in class.
The culmination of Erica’s story and her ultimate confession makes the show worth seeing by itself. It’s definitely out there and will make you question the little gift you’re handed at the end of the show.
- Deepest Darkest is playing until July 12 at the Theatre Passe Muraille Mainspace (16 Ryerson Ave)
- Tickets are $12 in advance, $10 at the door. 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 performance. 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.
- Audience advisory: Please note that this performance features audience participation, sexual content, and coarse language.
July 07 at 08:00 PM
July 08 at 06:00 PM
July 09 at 02:15 PM
July 11 at 09:15 PM
July 12 at 01:00 PM
LATECOMERS ARE NEVER ADMITTED TO FRINGE SHOWS. To avoid disappointment, be sure to arrive a few minutes before curtain.