In a fairly full house in the Factory Mainspace at 1:45 on a sunny Saturday at Toronto Fringe Festival, Sam Mullins (eponymous author of The Untitled Sam Mullins Project shows his stuff. The photo above does not lie: Mullins tells stories. If I had a sharpie, I’d amend his sign to read “I tell (three fairly interesting and one utterly riveting) stories (well enough that no one looked at their watch for an entire hour).” In a nutshell, there’s the show.
Mullins, who’s a Toronto Fringe favourite by now, is a very good composer of a story. He never rambles or digresses, the composition of his stories – what he leaves out, what he puts in, how he manages the time and pace of a story – are really outstanding. He fits a lot in, but never too much; the work is emotionally rich but not soppy.
That’s my favourite thing about this work too, which is comprised of four stories bookended by a little device about a stand-up comedy workshop he once took as a university student.
Each of the stories relies on one of the truths Mullins is assigned to write down during this inaugural stand-up class. They range from “Embarrassing things always happen to me,” to “I’m afraid I’ll never find love,” with some (slightly cheerier?) stops in between, but there are plenty of laughs.
Mullins it as his best when he’s allowing himself to be the slightly uptight nerd he is at heart, designating sidebars and digressions with his blocking and posture, laying out his case. In some other stories, as the emotional content gets a little deeper, he seemed stiff to me sometimes – like he can’t really pay too much attention to the story he’s telling, lest it overcome him.
Regardless, the work is very good. Storytelling aficionados (as well as those who perhaps were not yet aware that that’s what they were) will fall feelings-first into some of these stories and laugh and cringe and laugh some more at the others. I left feeling awfully glad that we still have storytellers in the world.
- The Untitled Sam Mullins Project is playing until July 12 at the Factory Theatre Mainspace (125 Bathurst Street)
- 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.
July 05 at 01:15 PM
July 07 at 08:45 PM
July 09 at 12:00 PM
July 10 at 04:00 PM
July 11 at 11:30 PM