The Merkin Sisters (a SNAFU production, playing at the 2018 Toronto Fringe Festival) has a back story. I know because it says so in the Fringe program. If I hadn’t read that, I wouldn’t have a clue — and it wouldn’t really matter. It’s billed as “A no-holds-barred physical comedy” but I don’t think that comes close to describing it.
I’d add wildly imaginative, absurd, bizarre, and sometimes baffling. And funny. Very funny.
It’s not for everyone. The woman beside me left quite early in the show when a sweater that had been re-purposed as a vagina gave birth to a glove. The woman in front left during “The Big Mouth Challenge” which involved each sister eating three Ritz crackers. Everyone has different boundaries.
Ingrid Hansen and Stephanie Morin-Robert are The Merkin Sisters. They may not be real sisters but they share the same wild imagination. They wrote the show.
The common thread which runs through the entire project and holds the separate pieces together is how skilled Hansen and Morin-Roberts are, and how well they work together. They even adjust their bathing suits precisely in well choreographed unison. Their timing is perfect.
There was no elaborate set, I think there was a table and a chair that were pulled out when they were needed. There were basically two costumes. For most of the show they wore bathing suits and bathing caps. The other costume is a gorgeous floor length, full body, curly red wig.
I don’t have a sister, but when I was 12, a really good friend and I used to make up plays and stories and scenarios that we acted out. Some of them were quite strange. Not this strange, but I can see how their ideas could evolve.
I don’t want to spoil any of the acts by describing them, you really need to experience them for yourself. You probably won’t like them all equally and there may be one or two that you don’t like — but The Merkin Sisters is worth seeing. At one point I was laughing in bewilderment, but laughter is laughter, and this is is a very funny show.
- The Merkin Sisters 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 Warning: Fog or haze effects.
- 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.
- Thursday July 5th, 6:30 pm
- Sunday July 8th, 6:30 pm
- Monday July 9th, 8:30 pm
- Tuesday July 10th, 10:00 pm
- Wednesday July 11th, 5:45 pm
- Friday July 13th, 12:00 pm
- Saturday July 14th, 3:30 pm
Photo of Ingrid Hansen & Stephanie Morin-Robert by an anonymous photographer