Here’s the first thing I liked about Blink’s Garden at the 2017 Toronto Fringe Festival: the kids in it, of which there were a fair few, looked excited. I love when children’s theatre has actual children in it, and this multi-character epic delivered on that and much more during the completely delightful show.
Blink’s Garden is a parable, plain and simple, and it’s a parable that knows it’s a parable about faith, power, community and friendship. It’s cheerful and a little hokey and comes with Dad jokes and nonsense, but it has an undeniable sweetness and an absolute ton of musical talent. It’s not remotely cool or slick, and in it’s earnestness I fell in love with it.
Blink, our hero, is a kid who can see the good in anything and has a lot of faith in the power of small acts of change. She’s gardening in an arid desert, on one side of a wall that is far too tall to climb.
Her bestie, Moeh (one of the older girls who has an amazing Erin McKeown kind of voice I would listen to all day, but I don’t know which one because there wasn’t a program available) and the other kids help and protect her work because they love her oddball spirit and her hopefulness.
A mysterious man teaches them the forgotten latter half of a children’s rhyme that they take seriously and make into a quest. There’s striving and failing, perseverance and great reward. It’s all there in the story.
The cast of Blink’s Garden is clearly several families, and I could group them easily but don’t know for sure who’s who (I suspect that the Janzens are the ones with the musical instruments but can’t be certain). It hardly matters, they’re a lot of fun. Somehow, the fact that these are clearly related humans playing and singing and acting together increased my fondness for the entire enterprise. It’s quite good, but far from fancy, more like a really, really good camp play written and narrated by everyone’s favourite counselor since forever.
Afterward, my small companion and I had a long talk about the sayings “the grass is always greener” and “songs unheard are sweeter far,” and discussed the value of seeking and prioritizing diversity in the world. I was totally charmed, and I would recommend Blink’s Garden unreservedly (especially to parents of 6-12 year olds who want to have a talk or two about social justice).
- Blink’s Garden plays at the George Ignatieff Theatre. (15 Devonshire Pl.)
- Tickets for Kidsfest shows are $5 for kids (age 12 and younger); adults pay $12.
- 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.
- The George Ignatieff Theatre is wheelchair-accessible, and has wide aisles for easy mid-show exits.
- Don’t miss the Kidsfest club located on the lawn adjacent to the venue! Free activities for children (3-12) and caregivers run every day of the festival: see website for details.
- Be aware that Fringe performances always start exactly on time, and that latecomers are never admitted.
- Thursday July 6th, 06:00 pm
- Friday July 7th, 03:30 pm
- Sunday July 9th, 04:45 pm
- Monday July 10th, 10:00 am
- Wednesday July 12th, 05:00 pm
- Thursday July 13th, 11:30 am
- Saturday July 15th, 01:15 pm
photo provided by the company