“You can’t be that attractive and funny” — well, not unless you’re Caitlin Robson and Eric Miinch. Catch the comedic duo in Caitlin & Eric Are Broken Up, produced by Squeaky Wheel, and playing now at the Toronto Fringe Festival.
I went into Caitlin & Eric Are Broken Up with high expectations, and I was not disappointed. Fringe favourite Eric Miinch is well known in the Toronto comedy scene, and while I’ve seen Caitlin in mostly dramatic roles, I’ve seen her sense of humour offstage and knew that this pair was going to be dynamite.
The show wasn’t what I expected. From the blurbs I’d read I was thinking it would be closer to sketch comedy; a combination of scenes based on stories from each other’s past romances and heartbreaks.
Instead, the play was based around a fictional couple looking back on all the good and bad times they’d had together, with inspiration for each scene coming from a combination of the actor’s own real-life stories. I think it was a wise choice to structure the show this way, it gave the audience the opportunity to connect better with the characters.
You may not relate to what’s happening in every scene, but I don’t think anyone who’s ever dated someone seriously (especially if that someone was an actor/arts worker) could get through the show without finding at least one moment that really hits a nerve; they did an excellent job of creating funny yet realistic conflicts.
At times the show felt a little rushed — mainly because the restraints of the Fringe required the actors to move set pieces themselves while still in full lights, something that messed with the pacing of the play. Personally, I would’ve gone with an even more minimal set to help alleviate this. Still, a minor flaw in a very strong show.
When you’re playing against Eric Miinch, it’s going to be hard to hold your own. Miinch is dynamic on stage, bursting with an energy that makes him impossible not to watch. The characters were written to support this, with Miinch getting most of the punchlines while Robson generally played the “straight man”.
While Robson’s character was more subdued, she had moments of comedic gold — after boyfriend Eric goes to sleep rather than spending some intimate time with her, Caitlin stares out sadly at the audience, dead eyes, eating a cold Mc Double. Her expression was priceless.
The show is a comedy, but isn’t without its moments of genuine heartache. I’ll admit I got teary-eyed when a broken, exhausted Eric admitted, “I am a loser and I tricked you into loving me”. Caitlin’s tearful admission that she was going to “miss McDonalds” was equally heartbreaking, and both Miinch and Robson proved to be just as capable of making the audience cry as they are of making them laugh.
If the show goes on past the Toronto Fringe (which I very much hope it will), I would like to see some cleaner transitions and better use of tech, but as far as the actor’s performance goes, it was spot on. Their opening night was packed full and received a standing ovation, one that I think was very well deserved.
- Caitlin & Eric Are Broken Up 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, Mature Language
- This venue is accessible.
- Friday July 7, 6:45pm
- Sunday July 9, 5:00pm
- Tuesday July 11, 1:00pm
- Wednesday July 12, 7:45pm
- Thursday July 13, 2:30pm
- Friday July 14, 4:00pm
- Saturday July 15, 11:00pm
Photo of Caitlin Robson and Eric Miinch by Daniel Goodbaum.