Be a Good Girl (Wandering Well Productions) 2018 Toronto Fringe Review

Poster for Be a Good Girl

Be a Good Girl is a semi-comic musical play by Adina Katz and Wandering Well Productions. It is performing for the 2018 Toronto Fringe Festival at the Annex Theatre.

This piece makes use of musical numbers, storytelling, film, and satire to talk about Katz‘ experience with sexual assault, as well as broader problems about the expectations placed on women in society. She tells her own story in detail. Despite the otherwise light and funny tone, it a vulnerable show.

The two primary set pieces of this play are a guitar and a piano. Katz frequently picks up her guitar and tells stories in song in a mainly light singer-songwriter folk type genre. Her singing and playing are really beautiful.

Katz sings about her relationships, and she sings ironic, unfortunately placed love songs. She also sings her story of assault. Although this challenging moment is a centrepiece of the performance, it is only one of many segments.

Along with music, filmed scenes are also significant to the play. The scenes range from news broadcasts to infomercials to a puppet musical number. Over-the-top satire fills most of them.

The puppet musical number “Folks in my Town” particularly stands out to me. In this muppets-esque film, Katz introduces cute puppets as the “ordinary” people from her hometown. These characters, however, are revealed to be sexual predators. The extreme language is at odds with the happy music. The humour is at odds with the horror.

One challenge I had was that I felt like Be a Good Girl isn’t well suited to this specific venue. The dimensions of the stage at The Annex Theatre seem to fit very awkwardly with the blocking of the piece.

Ultimately though, this isn’t the type of work that I typically enjoy. I did not get a cohesive story out of the structure of the play – and I’m not sure I was supposed to. Although, this was a preview performance and there was a technical issue with the projector, so it is possible that influenced that aspect at this performance.

That said, there are many powerful elements and moments. It is clear that this vulnerable piece is the result of a great deal of effort and collaboration. After the performance I attended, Katz promptly received a standing ovation from the audience. This certainly demonstrated how the group as a whole received it.

I hope you leave this review at least interested in Be a Good Girl. I recommend you give it a try. Despite my personal tastes, I think this is an artist displaying a great deal of talent whose work deserves to be seen.

Details

  • Be a Good Girl plays at the Annex Theatre. (736 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; Sexual content; Unsuitable for minors; Realistic violence or gore.
  • This venue is wheelchair-accessible through a secondary route which requires a staff escort. Check in at the box office at least 15 minutes prior to showtime.
  • Be aware that Fringe performances always start exactly on time, and that latecomers are never admitted.

Performances

  • Thursday July 5th, 8:15 pm
  • Saturday July 7th, 3:30 pm
  • Monday July 9th, 6:45 pm
  • Tuesday July 10th, 5:45 pm
  • Wednesday July 11th, 11:00 pm
  • Friday July 13th, 1:45 pm
  • Saturday July 14th, 12:00 pm

Audience Advisory:

  • disturbing sexual content
  • emotional and physical abuse
  • trauma
  • mature and graphic language
  • references of misogyny

Poster of production by unknown artist

2 thoughts on “Be a Good Girl (Wandering Well Productions) 2018 Toronto Fringe Review”

  1. This is the kind of play which, to me, the fringe festival is all about. It is deeply personal, thought provoking and touching. It has gut wrenching moments, as you would expect when a woman is telling you about being date raped and the aftermath. The play is artistic and entertaining with its use of many different devices (ie. video footage, puppets, songs, etc.). I give it five stars out of five.

  2. Was there ever a time in your life when:

    1) You dreamed about finding true love and living happily ever after like one of those Disney princesses?

    2) You compromised and remained “a good girl” just to keep someone in your life?

    3) You stayed in a relationship that you knew was unhealthy because you were so afraid of “not being loved”?

    4) You let someone touch your body and pressure you into doing things against your will because you were oh-so-desperate to be loved you didn’t care what you had to do?

    5) Your body was brutally violated and you either a) kept it to yourself because of the shame and guilt or b) you tried to tell someone but it all backfired in your face and you were given that “are-you-sure-you’re-not-over-reacting” attitude until even you start to doubt yourself?

    If you can answer “yes” to at least one, or a few, or most, or ALL of the questions above, you need to watch “Be a Good Girl”.

    My husband and I watched it on Saturday and it was FANTASTIC.

    In this one-woman show, Adina Katz bravely stands up and shares her personal story with NO RESERVATIONS. No subtle hints here and there. No need to “fill in the rest” with your imagination. Through the lyrics of a song, she tells you how she was violently raped by a man she was dating, right down to the details of their conversation during this violent act.

    Adina’s story is every woman’s story. It is my story and your story. Her voice is every woman’s voice speaking for those who don’t have one—-yet.

    In the spirit of refusing to remain silent, I am admitting that I can personally say YES to at least 4 of the questions above. At age 40, I refuse to continue to stay silently trapped in my own shame and guilt.

    Adina, thank you for inspiring me to finally speaking up. It’s just a small step, but I believe this is a step in the right direction.

    Anna

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