Compulsion (Fenton & White) 2018 Toronto Fringe Review

Photo of Sara Stahlmer in Compulsion

Compulsion, written by Scott White and produced by Fenton & White, is a dark contemporary musical following six people whose lives end up intertwining in a hospital room. For me, it was everything a musical should be.

On the musical theatre spectrum, my personal preferences fall closer to the cheesy, Disney-fied musical comedy rather than the serious, contemporary dramas. Funny enough though, Compulsion managed to leave this cheese-loving musical theatre nerd with a huge smile on her face and a sense of total awe.

The score of Compulsion is hauntingly beautiful (written by Scott White). I find it to be highly original and very smart. It has a certain slyness to it that seems to be a trademark of White’s writing.

Every song is so unique and purposeful, but my favourite is “I Waited” sung by Todd (Matthew Bradley) as he laments over the dying child in the hospital bed he couldn’t help. I cried but not necessarily because I was sad about the story of it (although it was very touching) but because it gave me that moment that I live for when I watch musicals. When story, music and interpretation meet in perfect synergy. It’s overwhelming. It just brings tears to my eyes, ok!? I can’t help it!

The incredible music of Compulsion is complimented by an equally incredible cast. I don’t even think I can single anyone out because each and every cast member brings something special to their performance. These actors are operating at a very high level.

In musicals, the book is known to support the music and therefore doesn’t usually get much attention, but I feel like I have to mention it in this particular case. The book is lean and drives the show forward at a thrilling pace. It’s chock full of more drama than you’d find on any episode of Grey’s Anatomy. Let me put it this way, there were constant, audible gasps coming from the audience throughout the entire show. Drama to the brim and we were loving every minute of it.

This production has a confidence about it that is rare to find on opening day of the Toronto Fringe. For me, Compulsion checks all of the musical theatre boxes. Intelligent score, captivating story and a stellar cast.

Details

  • Compulsion plays at the Factory Theatre Mainspace. (125 Bathurst St.)
  • 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; Unsuitable for minors.
  • This venue is wheelchair-accessible through a secondary route.
  • Be aware that Fringe performances always start exactly on time, and that latecomers are never admitted.

Performances

  • Wednesday July 4th, 8:15 pm
  • Friday July 6th, 10:15 pm
  • Sunday July 8th, 8:45 pm
  • Tuesday July 10th, 6:30 pm
  • Wednesday July 11th, 11:30 pm
  • Thursday July 12th, 12:00 pm
  • Sunday July 15th, 1:45 pm

Photo of Sara Stahmer by Scott White.

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