Shakespeare’s Ghostbusters (The Coincidence Men) 2017 Toronto Fringe Review

photo of Patrice Goodman Ralph MacLeod, Kerry Griffin, Tim Blair, Rob Hawke, Marcel St.Pierre, Gord Oxley, Jessica Perkins

What light from yonder window breaks? Slimer? Or so it goes in Shakespeare’s Ghostbusters, a retelling of the 80’s classic in Shakespearean verse put on by The Coincidence Men. Playing as part of the 2017 Toronto Fringe Festival, it is a show that, for all its poetry, pretty well speaks for itself.

Getting down to brass tacks, this is a show that is gimmicky. It plays on well-known and loved popular culture and re-imagines it with flowery, nigh-obsolete syntax that is contrary to the play’s tone in order to get laughs. The company owns this choice with pure confidence from start to finish, and are therefore entirely successful in getting laughs and cheers from us.

Admittedly it doesn’t have the most original premise, but this play does have the potential to do something powerful. By presenting well-known works of fiction with “Shakespeare-ized” dialogue, it helps to demystify the Bard and bring understanding to those who might not enjoy all the of linguistic archaeology required to understand Elizabethan-era plays. That, and hearing classic quips rephrased with poetic pretense, is a surefire formula for comedy. Rather than shy away from the interaction of pop culture and classic drama and literature, this shows gladly marries them, and the results are a treat.

Fringe Festivals are a great opportunities to let shows and their artists grow, and often what audiences see at these events are ideas that are not necessarily at the final, polished stage of their life. This show feels like such a piece. The challenge of the wordiness of the show makes it more of a dressed-up reading, but the script has a clever enough treatment with a caring enough cast to deliver it with gusto all the same. The special effects might not be in over-abundance, but half the hilarity factor is watching the group go through scenes with ultra-low-budget effects and a bit of elbow grease. Some might grumble at the idea of a show like this, preferring a Fringe experience of new, original works that come from the heart. But there is nothing wrong with taking in a sure thing that brings some fun to your evening.

Much like the original Ghostbusters film, it would be remiss to not talk about the power of the ensemble cast and their enthusiasm. The sheer absurdity of the story requires competent actors who can roll with the punches, improvise and work off of each other’s weirdness. This group gladly delivers. It is also of note that the company members are largely comprised of Toronto’s Improv and Sketch Comedy scene, which is highly appropriate given the legacy of the Ghostbusters film. It is a silly story that requires people who can make trouble, while maintaining a high degree of professionalism and showmanship.

Overall, if you like to laugh and need a palate cleanser from the array of punchy dramas that Fringe offers, this show is worth checking out.

Details:

  • Shakespeare’s Ghostbusters plays at Tarragon Theatre Mainspace located at 30 Bridgman Ave
  • Tickets are $12. 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 Scadding Court, and — if any remain — from the venue’s box office starting one hour before curtain.
  • 74 minute runtime.
  • Be aware that Fringe performances always start exactly on time, and that latecomers are never admitted.
  • Seating capacity is 205 persons
  • Content Warnings: Parental guidance suggested

Performances:

6th July 8:15pm
8th July 10:30pm
10th July 4:30pm
11th July 4:45pm
13th July 1:45pm
15th July 9:15pm
16th July 1:45pm

The Coincidence Men company left to right: Patrice Goodman Ralph MacLeod, Kerry Griffin, Tim Blair, Rob Hawke, Marcel St.
Pierre, Gord Oxley, Jessica Perkins. Photo Credit: Marcel St. Pierre