Best Picture is a Toronto Fringe Festival 2016 play about movies — specifically, all the movies that have been awarded the honour of Best Picture at the Academy Awards since its inception in 1927.
That makes 88 movies to cover in a mere 60 minutes.
If you’re quick at math, you will notice that 6 movies are missing — there should be 94 winners since 1927. However, the award was only given out every two years until 1934. Quick bit of trivia for all you film know-it-alls.
I am also a self-proclaimed film know-it-all, but I was a little surprised to find that out of the list of Best Picture winners on the program (they listed each and every one), I had only seen about half of them! No matter. The actors – Jon Paterson, Rachel Kent, and Kurt Fitzpatrick – cleverly distilled the movies using famous lines, summing up of plots, and re-enactments of famous scenes. Each and every movie was treated with humour and light-heartedness, and the three actors did a fine job of inciting lots of laughter from the audience.
The script was very good at distilling the films into often-hilarious sound bites. 1940 Best Picture winner Rebecca, about a young woman being gaslighted in her new home, was summed up by one actor saying to another, “I am going to stare at you from windows in a slightly creepy way, just like Christian Slater did to that girl in Untamed Heart, and give you advice that is only meant to harm you.”
Similarly, in the re-enactment of a scene from Titanic (1997), Ms. Kent asked Mr. Paterson if he could please “come up on this piece of wood with me instead of dying in the water. We are in the middle of the Atlantic. It will hold both of us.”
And Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King’s Smeagol was seen asking himself, “Why do I keep on returning to the same pool of water just so my other (evil) self, Gollum, can convince me to commit murder?”
Clark Gable was given a unique treatment: he was in a few Best Picture winners including Gone With the Wind (1939) and It Happened One Night (1934), and was the star who “men wanted to be and women wanted to marry.” Apparently, the two male actors couldn’t decide on who was going to play Mr. Gable, so they settled on both of them playing him at once as a man with two heads, speaking in perfect unison.
This show made me think about many of the movies I love so much. I also realized that I have a lot of Best Pictures to watch for the first time, or to watch all over again. I am sure I wasn’t the only audience member to feel that way, and I think that’s a pretty sure sign that Best Picture has hit its mark.
- Best Picture plays at the Theatre Passe Muraille Mainspace. (16 Ryerson Ave)
- Tickets are $12 in advance and at the door. The festival also offers a range of money-saving passes for serious Fringers.
- Tickets can be purchased online, by telephone (), 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 Warnings: Gunshots, Mature Language, Audience Participation.
- This venue is wheelchair-accessible.
- Friday July 1st, 09:45 pm
- Saturday July 2nd, 04:00 pm
- Sunday July 3rd, 11:00 pm
- Monday July 4th, 05:15 pm
- Tuesday July 5th, 08:00 pm
- Wednesday July 6th, 04:00 pm
- Saturday July 9th, 07:00 pm
Photo by Richard Gilmore.