PRTNR (David Told Me To Do This Productions) 2018 Toronto Fringe Review

Natalie Kulesza and David Rowan in PRTNR

PRTNR, written and performed by David Rowan and Natalie Kulesza playing at the 2018 Toronto Fringe Festival, is a sketch comedy show exploring the possible definitions of partnership.

At the end of a long day of seeing Fringe shows, this one was a joy to watch. The concept is simple, and Rowan and Kulesza (directed by Sam Roulston) rose to the occasion to develop sketches that really are “over-the-top” funny, all while maintaining sincerity and loyalty to the theme.

Everything in the show is just a bit larger than life – Rowan and Kulesza take the mundane (baristas working a morning rush, dogs at the park, office workers taking phone calls) and turn them into the absurd.

In addition to their sketches exploring partnership, this show featured what I can only call “meta blackout sketches”, many of which are my personal favourites from the revue. You have to see them to know what I’m referring to.

In contrast to most sketch revues I’ve seen, PRTNR features a few moments of unironic sincerity. Two sketches depict more naturalistic moments in partnership; these sketches have moments of levity, but comedy is not the focal point. I think this is unique, and perhaps even necessary in the context of a show that revolves around a concept as important as partnership (and by extension, relationality).

What makes this show so funny for me is Rowan and Kulesza’s incredible abilities at characterization. Regardless of the absurdity with which their characters were behaving in, they felt real in the context of the sketch. Their vocal affectations and idiosyncrasies make sense; these characters are ridiculous, but not caricatures.

In its short run time, PRTNR accomplishes a deep dive into both its theme and styles of comedy and characterization. The show is silly fun, but it is also more than meets the eye.

Details

  • PRTNR 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 Warning: Audience participation.
  • 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

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

Photo by Natalie Kulesza and David Rowan by Dahlia Katz

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