Hunker down, folks. The Diddlin’ Bibbles Live in Concert by The Diddlin’ Bibbles at the 2017 Toronto Fringe Festival are here.
With a name like that, one might expect a night of wholesome southern music, a kind couple in love, glowing with that rustic small-town charm, smiling as they welcome you into their dusty little world of warm sunbeams and a gentle pace, drinking sweet tea on the white wicker porch chairs.
Snap out of that tired fantasy, folks, because the satirical-comedy-musical-wink-wink-nudge-nudge-motherfluppin’ Diddlin’ Bibbles are here.
Under the guise of such wholesome (yet progressive!) characters emerge two sharp-witted comedic creators – united as a duo they pack a serious punch.
With little more than bar stools, instruments, and a few bright props (and prayer headsets–more on that later), co-creators Lesley Robertson (Rose-Marie Bibble) and Matt Shaw (Jessop Bibble) completely captivate a room of raucous audience members and leave us wanting more.
Before the lights ever go down, the room is bursting with joy and babbling conversations. “I’m so excited to see this,” says one woman behind me, and rightfully so she is.
The show’s concept is simple (and hilarious): Rose-Marie and Jessop Bibble are ‘hand-picked’ for the big city Fringe and get swept away in the challenges of moving up the prestigious Fringe celebrity ranks, as told through comedic songs and scenes.
The characters are hopeful, loving, and gentle, and at once, they are lustful, empowered, and passionate. And constantly, amazingly funny.
The songs themselves depend largely on lyrics, as the music is pretty straightforward. These lyrics do plenty, however, as every line is laced with cleverness.
Perhaps my favourite element is the continual teasing of the Fringe Festival, and their presence within it. A self-aware choice that never gets old, these two know better than to take themselves too seriously.
Song subjects range from their reasons to leave their hometown of Widdlywack, to empowered genitalia, to flying a kite made of less-than-savoury materials. Said songs are carried on the lighthearted-but-also-sad plot of their struggling marriage in the dawn of their newfound Fringe fame.
Another less prominent, though no less laugh-inducing, element is that of their devout worship of their deity: a human man they’ve personally met who lives in a trailer and hears their prayers through their headsets. I’ll leave that for you to discover when you go see it.
Because you really should go see it. Sometimes raunchy, often surprising, and always a pleasure, the Diddlin’ Bibbles embodies the Fringe festival to a tee. I highly recommend it to newbies and veterans alike for getting into the spirit of Fringe. An absolute delight.
- The Diddlin’ Bibbles Live in Concert plays at the St. Vladimir Institute. (620 Spadina 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.
- Content Warnings: Unsuitable for Minors, Sexual Content, Audience Participation, Mature Language.
- This venue is wheelchair-accessible through a secondary route. After the building’s business hours, a staff member will need to escort you through this route, so plan to arrive early for evening shows.
- Thursday July 6th, 06:30 pm
- Saturday July 8th, 01:45 pm
- Sunday July 9th, 11:00 pm
- Tuesday July 11th, 08:30 pm
- Thursday July 13th, 12:00 pm
- Friday July 14th, 05:15 pm
- Sunday July 16th, 04:30 pm
Photo of Matt Shaw and Lesley Robertson by Katherine Fogler