Veteran Toronto comedian and actor Moniquea Marion displays her talent for characters in Glorious Loser, her one-person show starring currently running in the Toronto Fringe Festival at the Tarragon Theatre Solo Room. Glorious Loser is a hilarious near-hour show densely packed with unforgettably funny characters presented by a performer eager to engage with her audience, and is well worth audience attention.
Glorious Loser, Marion’s second show at the Toronto Fringe Festival after 2015’s Mumsical, is shaped by a challenge: How many different characters, of varying ages and genders and life experiences, can Marion present in less than an hour’s time? How well can she inhabit these different characters? It turns out she can do these things quite well.
The live performances of Glorious Loser are remarkable. Marion successfully inhabits one character after another, each different from the next. The first character present was that of Arlene Lavoie, a quietly desperate motivational speaker who uses her Powerpoint slides with catch-phrases stolen from Tony Robbins and Yoda to carefully skating past the sordid realities of her life. Other characters were equally memorable. There was the teenage boy rapper who, in his Facebook Live stream, revealed a passion for his girlfriend that was embarrassing in so many ways. There was Bee Stripper Beatrice, a comely young drone looking for pollen and hoping to find a male to bring back to her queen. There was a grandmother fond of long regional bus trips, going to Casino Rama to catch Lord of the Dance, who gradually revealed herself through the advice she gave other bus-riders to be an increasingly terrible passenger. There was the red T-shirted rapper Heavy Flow, with her pretty credible and funny rap about menstrual flow. Pie Man — a white-mustached man fond of pies (but pies narrowly defined) — recurred. All of these characters, and others beside, were memorable and laugh-out-loud funny.
Marion’s performance was definitely enhanced by Glorious Loser‘s inventive use of staging, handled jointly by Ana-Marija Stojic and Justine Cargo. As Marion quickly switched from one costume and character to another hidden from audience eyes, sketches drawn from her YouTube channel were projected for the audience. These filmed sketches were not mere filler, but quality entertainment themselves. I was particularly taken by one clip of a woman’s panicked flight from her neighbourhood ice cream truck, another of Martha Stewart describing her relationships with not just Snoop Dogg but the wider hip-hop community, and a profane anti-Trump rap by Angela Merkel. The clips gave Marion plenty of time to transform herself, while entertaining the audience.
As a performer, Marion’s confidence in engaging with her audience — something presumably drawn from her extensive sketch comedy experience — stood out for me. Marion in Glorious Loser actively brought her audience into her performances in a way I have rarely seen at Fringe. She quickly got audience members to join in Heavy Flow’s rap, and to fetchingly wave flowers for Beatrice’s attention. Her charisma as a performer helped propel Glorious Loser, even past minor technical issues with the synchronization of her video clips’ audio with the video.
Glorious Loser is a fun 55 minutes of solid comedic character sketches put on by a skilled performer more than capable of taking command of her performance space and convincing her audience to follow her. Fans of comedy done well need to see this show.
- Glorious Loser is playing until July 14 at the Tarragon Theatre Solo Room. (30 Bridgman Avenue)
- 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 Fringe Club at Scadding Court, and — if any remain — from the venue’s box office starting one hour before curtain.
- Be advised that Fringe performances always start exactly on time, and latecomers are never admitted. To avoid disappointment, be sure to arrive a few minutes before curtain.
- July 4th at 6:30 pm
- July 6th at 8:15 pm
- July 7th at 3:15 pm
- July 8th at 6:15 pm
- July 10th at 10:15 pm
- July 12th at 2:45 pm
- July 13th at 8:45 pm
- July 14th at 6:45 pm
Image provided by company.