A Lover Improper (Templeton Productions) 2016 Toronto Fringe Review

A photo of Arianne Shaffer

A Lover Improper, playing at this year’s Toronto Fringe Festival, is one woman’s personal tale of acknowledging, accepting, finding, and enjoying love and sex. One-person shows of a personal nature are always either a hit or a miss and it comes down to how engaging the story teller is. In this case, Arianne Shaffer is endearing, uplifting, and a lot of fun to watch.

As most adults have lived through their own share of relationships and sexual encounters both good and bad, hearing about someone else’s is only truly enjoyable if their stories are in any way relatable, or if they offer newly discovered insight. This is where Shaffer delivers, as many of her concepts (the Grand Canyon man — so glorious that your duty is to have your fun with him and leave him for someone else) and references (Adele’s “Someone Like You”. I, too, have been haunted many a time by that song…) left the audience chuckling in agreement.

Shaffer is an incredibly spiritual person and it’s her Jewish faith that leaves a lasting impression throughout her life experiences. That’s mostly where I wasn’t connected — I’m not Jewish and I haven’t been very spiritual in years. Many of the references here that had the audience hooting and hollering I only smirked at.

What I loved most about the show was the joy and sense of self worth that Shaffer found in all of her encounters, regardless of how they affected her in the moment. This is something I find many people struggle with and that little reminder is always useful.

Technically speaking, I enjoyed her musical choices used to transition between her chapters. I particularly loved how she spoke directly with the sound booth people, often telling them to replay a song for emphasis and then to shut it off because it was bringing her mood down.

A Lover Improper is a very empowering personal tale that is a fat-positive, spiritually uplifting, one-woman version of Sex in the City. It’s an enjoyable fun watch.


  • A Lover Improper plays at the Theatre Passe Muraille Backspace. (16 Ryerson Ave)
  • Tickets are $12 at the door and in advance, and can be bought online, by telephone (416-966-1062), from the Fringe Club at Honest Ed’s Alley, and — if any remain — from the venue’s box office starting one hour before curtain. The festival also offers a range of money-saving passes for serious Fringers.
  • Be aware that Fringe performances always start exactly on time, and that latecomers are never admitted.
  • Content Warning: Mature Language.
  • This venue is NOT wheelchair-accessible.


  • Friday July 1st, 06:30 pm
  • Saturday July 2nd, 03:15 pm
  • Sunday July 3rd, 08:00 pm
  • Tuesday July 5th, 03:15 pm
  • Wednesday July 6th, 08:15 pm
  • Thursday July 7th, 01:00 pm
  • Saturday July 9th, 09:45 pm

Photo of Arianne Shaffer by Sadaf Rassoul Cameron.