Enjoy the Hostilities (Pressgang Theatre) 2018 Toronto Fringe Review

Photo of Robin Black from Enjoy the Hostilities

Do you remember Robin Black? I do. His was a name and face that was as ubiquitous to MuchMusic as Ed the Sock. With his band, he proudly proclaimed that “some of you boys and most of you girls would love me“. If being a glam punk rocker wasn’t enough, Black then immersed himself in the world of MMA cage fighting, putting his Tae Kwon Do and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu skills to the test before setting his goals to becoming a commentator for the UFC. At the 2018 Toronto Fringe Festival, Black along with the help of writer Graham Isador, presents Enjoy the Hostilities, an in-depth look at the life of Robin Black.

Enjoy the Hostilities takes place at the Bovine Sex Club, a delightfully skeezy and divey rock bar that looks like a trash heap both inside and outside. Ironically, or not, Black’s rock star lifestyle mirrors this venue perfectly — aside from the fact the he and his band were the house band here for a while. Black’s show is a one man performance on the life and times of himself — a man who took his life in multiple directions, did his best to achieve greatness where he could before cleaning up his life and setting himself on a different path.

What this show ultimately is is a Get Up and Go motivational speech. By breaking down a larger goal into smaller, more obtainable goals that you work at daily, anything is ultimately possible. This may seem hokey coming from someone else but Black sells it hook, line and sinker. It works when you’re familiar with his experiences.

Black starts from childhood, describing life with dad and how a declaration to become the first man on Mars turned into a series of steps his dad began to drill into him in order to make that goal a reality. He then travels through his life, astronaut dreams abandoned, to lead Robin Black and the Intergalactic Rock Stars who toured the world for a decade and became a household name on MuchMusic. Black may have lacked actual musical talent but he could sell it well and that was all you really needed in the 90s.

A drug induced seizure led him to change direction and clean up. His new goal of becoming a commentator for the UFC may mean taking a few blows to the head in the cage himself but ultimately he’ll get there.

Black is as charismatic now as when I remember him from MuchMusic. He’s engaging, lively, incredibly funny, and knows how to read a crowd well. His storytelling is animated, he uses the confines of that small stage and what props he has to his fullest ability. His side commentary and throwaway jokes to the audience makes this show a hoot.

Some of the technical aspects weren’t as clean and that could be summed up to the small venue — Black’s microphone was a bit too loud, the backing music a bit too quiet, but it didn’t deter from the enjoyment of the show.

The crowd loved this show as much as I did and it’s clear most of the crowd are Black fans from either his times in music or in the ring. Whether or not you’re a Robin Black fan or if you even know his name, Enjoy the Hostilities is a worthwhile show to catch during this year’s Fringe.

Details

  • Enjoy the Hostilities plays at The Bovine. (542 Queen St. W.)
  • Tickets are $13, including a $2 service charge. The festival also offers a range of money-saving passes and discounts for serious Fringers.
  • Tickets can be purchased online, by telephone (416-966-1062), from the Festival Box Office at Scadding Court (707 Dundas St. W.), and — if any remain — from the venue’s box office starting one hour before curtain.
  • Content Warnings: Mature language; Realistic violence or gore.
  • The Fringe Festival considers this venue to be wheelchair-accessible.
  • Be aware that Fringe performances always start exactly on time, and that latecomers are never admitted.

Performances

  • Wednesday July 4th, 6:00 pm
  • Thursday July 5th, 6:00 pm
  • Sunday July 8th, 6:00 pm
  • Monday July 9th, 6:00 pm
  • Tuesday July 10th, 6:00 pm
  • Wednesday July 11th, 6:00 pm
  • Thursday July 12th, 6:00 pm
  • Sunday July 15th, 6:00 pm

Photo of Robin Black by John Laszlo Bruce

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