I was skeptical going into Boulderz Climbing Centre (1444 Dupont St, Unit 16) to see the Sky Above Us Productions show, Crux, at the Toronto Fringe Festival. Seeing a show at a climbing centre sounded kind of gimmicky to me. But coming out of it I was ecstatic. This is the most fun I’ve had at the “theatre” in a very long time.
Crux is an immersive show, where ‘Audience Participation’ means that you can climb on the walls. There are also several plot-lines unfolding at once, so you choose which characters to follow around the gym. I bounced between stories, trying to take as much in as possible. To fully experience Crux though, you’d have to return for a second or even third viewing. Honestly, that actually sounds pretty appealing to me.
The story is a lot like an early 2000’s Disney Channel TV show, but raunchier. A bunch of young climbers are gearing up for the big competition at their local climbing gym; shenanigans ensue. It follows a lot of cheesy tropes, but for me this was perfectly okay. When there’s so much going on and you’re inevitably going to miss parts of the story, it’s nice to never feel lost. I also think that deep down everyone in my generation wishes they could be in the middle of an early 2000’s Disney Channel TV show.
Moreover, despite the straightforwardness of the plot(s) this was still a very funny play. The dialogue had the audience giggling throughout, and everyone in that gym had a huge smile on their face the entire time.
The performances were delightful too. The cast was warm and friendly, talking to the audience and even teaching them about climbing at times. Huge props to Barrett Morison who played the gym owner, Mike. To be honest, I actually thought he was the owner of the gym and just happened to have been given a part in the show. Laura Del Papa was delightfully friendly as Theresa and she helped fit me for my climbing shoes. Ryan Jacobs’ mannerisms were hilarious and reminded me of a very toned down Charlie Kelly from It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia. These are just the actors I ended up seeing the most of, but depending on who you follow around you’ll get to know different people.
The choreography was incredible as well, with ridiculously neat dance numbers that made use of the climbing walls. I honestly can’t think of a single thing that didn’t fit this show and I find myself itching to go back.
Crux is a wonderfully fun time. I’m not one to gush over something, but this really did it for me. Take your friends to this show or bring a date. Anyone that goes with you will be impressed that you found such a cool way to spend an evening.
- Crux plays at Boulderz Climbing Centre. (1444 Dupont St.)
- Tickets are $12 at the door and in advance. The festival also offers a range of money-saving passes for serious Fringers.
- Tickets can be purchased 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.
- Be aware that Fringe performances always start exactly on time, and that latecomers are never admitted.
- Audience members must sign a waiver to enter the gym, and anyone under 18 must be accompanied by an adult.
- Content Warning: Audience Participation.
- Wednesday June 29th, 09:30 pm
- Thursday June 30th, 09:30 pm
- Friday July 1st, 09:30 pm
- Saturday July 2nd, 07:30 pm
- Monday July 4th, 09:30 pm
- Tuesday July 5th, 09:30 pm
- Wednesday July 6th, 09:30 pm
- Thursday July 7th, 09:30 pm
- Friday July 8th, 09:30 pm
- Saturday July 9th, 07:30 pm
- Sunday July 10th, 07:30 pm
Production photography by Brayden Swire