Al Lafrance: I Think I’m Dead (playing at the 2018 Toronto Fringe Festival) feels like it could be a crystallizing show for people with insomnia, depression and suicidal ideation. In this one-man set, delivered with the pace and precision of a military tattoo, he walks us through 15 years of grappling with mental health, and how he uses multiverse theory to understand himself and the world around him.
Lafrance is a likeable guy, the slightly-nervous, highly-engaging sort of person who seems like he only gets cooler once you put a few beers in him. He’s also got some interesting experiences under his belt, with stories touching on professional wrestling, being stuck in a hurricane, and a few creative way of breaking the human body.
But I found that a lot of the material itself sags. I was constantly reminded of what it feels like when an acquaintance breaks into a lengthy story which they totally promise has a fantastic payoff at the end, but which never quite arrives. Digression, digression, 2-minute walk to nowhere, digression…
I’m also not in the target audience, though. As I said, I Think I’m Dead feels like the kind of piece which will help certain people struggling with similar issues to make sense of half-formed ideas, and Lafrance’s appeal at the end — if you need to talk about this stuff, he’s available any time anywhere, including on social media — feels genuine and important.
I Think I’m Dead does palpably crank up in the final 15 minutes, when Lafrance reaches real deep and pulls out some good stuff around therapy, self-treatment, and the transformative power of artistic works. The ending is also when the multiverse stuff starts to come together as something more than a comedy conceit. But, sadly, we can’t cross over to another timeline in order to catch just the last quarter: even in the multiverse, Fringe doesn’t admit latecomers.
- Al Lafrance: I Think I’m Dead plays at the Theatre Passe Muraille Backspace. (16 Ryerson Ave.)
- 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 Warning: Mature language.
- This venue is wheelchair-accessible. Accessible seating is in the front row.
- Be aware that Fringe performances always start exactly on time, and that latecomers are never admitted.
- Wednesday July 4th, 6:30 pm
- Friday July 6th, 1:15 pm
- Saturday July 7th, 10:15 pm
- Sunday July 8th, 4:30 pm
- Tuesday July 10th, 6:45 pm
- Thursday July 12th, 9:45 pm
- Friday July 13th, 3:30 pm
- Saturday July 14th, 8:00 pm
Photograph of All Lafrance by Sophie Croteau