In his most recent Fringe venture, James takes us on a journey through every sexual milestone he’s experienced since childhood. Everything from his Terminator-induced sexual awakening to his very first pregnancy scare on open waters is touched upon. This might sound like typical one-man show sort of fair, however; there’s a catch — he was a virgin until age 28. This concept was very interesting to me… and I was proved right.
Though Gangl took a few minutes to get his footing, once he found his flow, it was smooth sailing ’til the end. The two words I would use to describe James is “delightfully awkward”. Picture a slightly neurotic Will Arnett stumbling over his most embarrassing moments in front of a crowd of people he’s never met before.
I later found out that Gangl is a seasoned Fringe artist who wrote and starred in”Sex, Religion and Other Hang-Ups” which played at the 2011 Toronto Fringe. He assured to us on hand and foot that we are not getting any second hand jokes. He promised.
I wanted to note that I really appreciated how comfortable he made the audience feel. It truly felt like we were all just hanging out with our best buddy James who just happened to decide to tell us his deepest, darkest secrets over mimosas. His performance was natural and sincere. He was simply “telling a story from his heart” and that’s all anyone really wants from an actor at the end of the day.
Although the script was definitely hilarious, I found the biggest laughs came from James’ improvised comments which punched up the humor even more. However, I did find that certain jokes could have used a bit more energy behind them. Gangl shone in his comedic outbursts, and I wish there was more of them!
The thing that sets In Search Of Cruise Control apart is Gangl’s story. I’m not going to spoil anything for you, but there’s a bit of a plot twist that ended up turning a silly romp about sex-adventures into a deeper experience of James’ childhood and hidden fears surrounding intimacy. When that plot twist hits, you could literally hear a pin drop. It was a welcomed surprise.
All in all I was mighty pleased with In Search Of Cruise Control. It ended up being a lot more than just dick jokes and embarrassing sex stories (although that would have been more than enough to satisfy), it was a true collaboration between audience and actor and in the end, we felt like we knew James possibly even better than he knew himself.
- In Search Of Cruise Control plays at the Annex Theatre. (736 Bathurst St.)
- 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: Not recommended for persons under 14 years of age, sexual content, mature language.
- This venue is accessible.
- Wednesday July 5th, 08:15 pm
- Friday July 7th, 10:30 pm
- Saturday July 8th, 04:00 pm
- Monday July 10th, 01:00 pm
- Wednesday July 12th, 09:15pm
- Thursday July 13th, 05:45pm
- Saturday July 15th, 07:30 pm
Photo of James Gangl by Paul Aihoshi