Want to catch a show that completely encompasses the spirit of Fringe? Don’t let the prospect of a one-man show with audience participation scare you off; Fastcar: Man of Action (produced by blind fool productions) is a delightful trip through the absurd, playing now at the Toronto Fringe Festival .
You enter the Tarragon Extraspace and immediately know you’re at a Fringe Festival performance; a humble, mis-matched set is dimly lit, there’s no pre-show music, the crowd mumbles quietly. Then the lights dim, triumphant music plays, the room quiets. A spotlight swells, and fades. Up again on the other end of the stage, it too fades. Full lights now, and…another fade. By this point the room is chuckling as we’ve all come to realize this isn’t some awkward high school-esq performance, but the beginning of a absurdist piece by someone who clearly has seen their share of indie and amateur theatre. Amo Gulinello’s Fastcar: Man of Action is in fact a well-paced, 45 minute comedy that does indeed find “adventure in the mundane”, by mixing ridiculous circumstance, excellent physical comedy and some great actor-made sound effects (I especially liked the light saber).
Fastcar doesn’t exactly have a plot, but there is an over-arching base storyline that will give you a nice “aha”moment at the end; I won’t ruin it for you here. Scenes are based around repetition of the banal, finding humour in actions as simple as answering a phone, by constantly upping the ante and pushing each reaction to the extreme. Gulinello’s physicality is spot-on, and he performs some very solid mime, but it’s the precision in which he applies his sound effects (there are almost no words in the entire show) that seems to get him the most laughs. While the majority of the sounds are created by the actor himself, kudos to stage manager Valerie Graper for staying on top of a long list of (what I assume are) some seemingly unpredictable visual cues.
As the site warns, there is audience participation, but don’t let that scare you off if you’d rather avoid the spotlight. The majority of the audience was left to sit back and watch, and those that were pulled up onstage seemed to have a great time. Gulinello did an excellent job of playing off of his new scene partners, and followed a cardinal rule of audience involvement; making sure the person is having fun. If they’re not, neither is your audience, thankfully all there tonight seemed to be thoroughly enjoying themselves.
Want to ensure you’ll enjoy the show? Bring a friend. Bring two. While Gulinello did an excellent job tonight of keeping up the energy for a smaller crowd (something especially difficult in a venue like the Extraspace, where he can see his audience clearly) these performances are always best when performed in front of large, active crowds. So help him fill the seats: you’ll be glad you did.
- Fastcar: Man of Action plays at the Tarragon Theatre Extraspace (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.
- Be aware that Fringe performances always start exactly on time, and that latecomers are never permitted.
- Content Warnings: Not Recommended for Persons Under 14, Sexual Content, Audience Participation
- This venue is accessible.
- Wednesday July 5, 10:15pm
- Saturday July 8, 9:30pm
- Monday July 10, 8:15pm
- Wednesday July 12, 12:15pm
- Thursday July 13, 6:00pm
- Friday July 14, 11:00pm
- Saturday July 15, 3:30pm
Photo of Amo Gulinello by Valerie Michele Graper.