It’s a tall order for one person to tackle a couple dozen characters in one show. And in Magical Mystery Detour by Gemma Wilcox at the Toronto Fringe Festival you’ll see it being done quite beautifully.
This is a touching show about a woman on a solo road trip at the end of a very long and trying year. It is at times funny and heartbreaking, and Magical Mystery Detour is one of the most impressive Fringe shows I’ve seen.
At first I was taken aback; Wilcox comes on strong at the opening with a host of absurd impressions: a fly, a dog, and a Scottish car among them. As she was twirling around the stage making “bzzzing” sounds, I wondered what I’d gotten myself into.
But this absurdity at the outset is necessary to shock you into a suspense of disbelief. As the rest of the show unfolded, I was ready to accept Wilcox in any of the absurd roles she took on in telling us her story. And there’s a lot of them. She created an entire world for us to enjoy, and as her main character travelled across England, it really felt like we the audience were along for the ride.
Wilcox herself is an incredible performer. It’s funny the things you take for granted as an (admittedly small-time) reviewer seeing shows every other week, because I brought a friend that couldn’t stop raving about the finesse of Wilcox’s movements, and how the small motions that she added really brought the scenes to life.
There are a lot of laughs to be had in this show. Magical Mystery Detour isn’t entirely a comedy either, there are some very poignant moments especially near the end. It’s well-crafted, with none of the extraneous bits or loose threads that I’ve become accustomed to seeing in Fringe Festivals. This piece is polished in both its writing and direction, and I greatly appreciated that.
I was also very impressed by the lighting and sound design. They were very well done, and some of the song choices in particular made for some very funny moments.
I can’t think of anything I didn’t like about Magical Mystery Detour. Across the board, every aspect of it was beautifully executed and it made for one of my most enjoyable Fringe experiences.
- Magical Mystery Detour plays at the Tarragon Solo Room. (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 admitted.
- This venue is wheelchair-accessible through a secondary route. Check in at the venue box office at least 15 minutes before showtime, and a staff member will escort you to the venue. Accessible seating is in the front row.
- Thursday July 6th, 07:45 pm
- Friday July 7th, 10:00 pm
- Sunday July 9th, 04:30 pm
- Monday July 10th, 09:15 pm
- Wednesday July 12th, 03:00 pm
- Thursday July 13th, 06:15 pm
- Friday July 14th, 05:15 pm
- Saturday July 15th, 06:15 pm
Image of Gemma Wilcox by Alive Studios.