In Fire In The Meth Lab, playing at St. Vladimirs during the 2016 Toronto Fringe Festival, I finally found my first real pleasure of the Fringe this year – a title with which I could answer the classic Fringe query: “Have you seen anything great?” I have now; it’s Fire In The Meth Lab. It’s just great.
This is a show that falls loosely into a category I typically do not enjoy: my weird relative, on whose unfortunate shoulders I am going to make a buck by holding them up to inspection/ridicule. Sometimes these are blatantly exploitative and sometimes navel-gazing to the point of exhaustion, but this one was… good. Very good. Bennett situates himself in the story, and manages somehow to let his particular weird relative – his older brother, Tim, become a real person. It’s a treat to watch.
Fair, I am a sucker for a storyteller, and Jon Bennett is a superlative storyteller. He’s got all the stuff – the timing, the details, the tone and inflection. His long story about his brother, currently in jail because of, well, a fire in a meth lab, is a series of ruminations and shorter stories that build and call back to one another. The artist in me appreciated the technical skill Bennet brings to building this show even while, as an audience member, I sat and let it roll over me with pleasure.
It bears noting that the “mature language” designation on this show might reasonably have several exclamation points after it. It doesn’t feel gratuitous, but the wise audience member will bear in mind that Bennett’s other very successful show is called “Pretending Things Are A Cock” when deciding whether to bring Aunt Petunia along.
But if she’s cool, bring her. You’ll be her Fringe hero.
- Fire In The Meth Lab plays at the St. Vladimir Institute. (620 Spadina Ave)
- Tickets are $12 at the door or 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.
- Content Warning: Mature Language.
- This venue is wheelchair-accessible.
- Thursday June 30th, 08:15 pm
- Saturday July 2nd, 11:00 pm
- Sunday July 3rd, 03:30 pm
- Tuesday July 5th, 06:15 pm
- Thursday July 7th, 12:00 pm
- Friday July 8th, 02:15 pm
- Saturday July 9th, 05:15 pm
Photo of Jon Bennett provided by the company