Myths and Coffee Cups, brought to you and the 2016 Toronto Fringe by Books Are Boring, is neither a book (nor is it boring). It is a conversation between son Jack and father Sam about the past and the future, and how living in the present is informed, and informs, both.
When I sat down in the Robert Gill Theatre late on Wednesday evening, the house lights were up and I was presented with twenty-something Jack sitting alone on a bench. He appeared restless as what sounded like an emo song from a mumblecore film played throughout the room, and seemingly in the earphones that connected his phone to his head.
With that setting, I was ready to enjoy a show similar to one of my favourite film genres. While the comparisons are not exactly mirrored, Myths and Coffee Cups does share elements — subtlety, rawness, and simplicity — from those types of films and the show was set up very well.
As the house lights went down, the music faded out, and Jack’s father Sam strolls into the scene. Jack is initially hesitant with seemingly happy-go-lucky Sam, and after the requisite surface “how are yous?”, the pair delve into deeper, more meaningful territory.
At the start, I questioned the pairing of Damien Doepping’s Jack and Bob Legare’s Sam. The first moments between the actors seemed forced. As the show progressed, I came to recognize this was more to do with their characters and the history between them than the actors themselves.
Over time and two cups of coffee, the pair ease between serious discussions of family, specifically father-son dynamics, and more comedic back-and-forth on Sam’s far flung theories about the nasal capabilities of tapeworms, and the insidious nature of cruise ships.
The show’s comedy came from Jack’s reaction to Sam’s wild ideas, as well as the generation gap with social media and smartphones. What made it funny was the timing and honesty of both Doepping and Legare.
Doepping’s portrayal of Jack – a single, anxiety-ridden writer and barista – was on point. As Jack, he never really appeared to be comfortable on stage with his closed-off body language. Even when he walked around, he rarely faced Sam, pointing to Jack’s confidence and anxiety issues.
Legare’s Sam is a blue collar auto-mechanic, and straightforward man from a different, “simpler” generation than his son. Legare seemed to embody Sam, often seated with a casual flair and delivering his dialogue with the same air. I felt if I needed help with my car, or a fence, or to build a house, I would expect not only Sam, but Legare as Sam to show up based on the confidence of the character.
Trevor Poelman’s script is well-layered. There are the more overt links between plot and character, such as a father and son catching up over coffee, but it was the subtle bonds under the surface with respect to Jack’s true motivations specifically, that really spoke to me as both a writer and as a son to my father.
I enjoyed Myths and Coffee Cups for its subtle humour and depth of thought and feeling, and I recommend it for those who enjoy the same.
- Myths and Coffee Cups plays at the Robert Gill Theatre. (214 College St)
- 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 wheelchair-accessible.
- Wednesday June 29th, 10:30 pm
- Saturday July 2nd, 07:30 pm
- Sunday July 3rd, 05:15 pm
- Monday July 4th, 01:15 pm
- Wednesday July 6th, 11:30 pm
- Friday July 8th, 05:45 pm
- Sunday July 10th, 05:00 pm
Photo provided by the company.