Mooney on Theatre Recommends – 2018 Toronto Fringe Festival (Part 1)

This past weekend Mooney on Theatre sent its dedicated team of 30 writers and editors to cover every single show in this year’s Toronto Fringe Festival! With the sheer number of options available at the festival, picking the ones you want to see can be a daunting task.

If you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed by the number of shows and you’re looking for a place to start, we’ve asked our staff to tell us about their favourite shows they’ve seen at this year’s festival. We hope our staff picks can help you navigate the Fringe.

If you’ve seen something you think is amazing that you think others should go see please let us know by leaving a comment.

And don’t forget to check out our complete list of Fringe reviews, and our Fringe Buzz features, including our new daily summary of Rave Reviews!

Mike Anderson is gonna surprise himself and plug Generally Hospital, a sketch show set in and around the medical profession. While the premise may sound sweaty, this is all-new and uncommonly strong material delivered extremely well by a company with an exceptionally good sense of timing. Quick, go see it before he runs out of superlatives!

Jennifer Enchin thinks you’d be crazy not to check out Scott White’s riveting new musical Compulsion. The production value is off the charts, the performances are of a professional caliber and the music is intelligent and dynamic, touching both the mind and the heart. I was engaged from beginning to end as the drama of Compulsion unfolded. There’s not a single dull moment in this show. Check it out, you won’t regret it!

Catherine Jan calls Anatomy of a Dancer a must-see. It will have you feeling transported. Full of joy and sincerity, this production is a playfully choreographed tribute to Gene Kelly.

Lin Young loved Dead for a Ducat, a slick, smart, and original two-hander that adapts Shakespeare’s Hamlet into a film noir, complete with tropes galore. The particular genius of this show (besides fluid, dynamic performances from Charlotte Foster and Peter Coleman) is in how it remixes and reconsiders the source material. For an adaptation of the most famous play in the world, it somehow never feels like it’s following a predictable path, nor is it overly reliant on references or winks to the original play to spin a damned good story.

Istvan Dugalin is an enthusiastic fan of the musical stoner comedy Life in a Box. He admits the premise is very silly, but performers Matthew Finlan and Landon Doak sell it with cleverness and sincerity. He thinks this exuberant duo will charm the socks right off of you.

Trevor Abes thinks How to be Fearless (With Roxy Roberts) is worth your presence. Ali Joy Richardson inspires deep empathy in the title role, exhibiting a command of timing and tone that never cease to delight. It’s a cleverly written play that takes being ridiculous very seriously.

Samantha Wu still finds herself haunted by The Girl in the Photograph. This very familiar autobiographical story paired with intensely powerful performances that are equal parts painful and beautiful make this show one that will stay with her for a long time. The dedication from the team at Chameleon Productions and Quirvan Productions shows throughout this production, not only in the great acting but in the meticulous staging and direction as well. She definitely recommends checking this out.

Tom Middleton was moved (geddit? geddit?) by The Bike Trip, a passionate whirlwind recounting of Martin Dockery’s attempt to recreate the world’s first acid trip. The way Dockery speaks of the human condition and human connection is undeniably beautiful. I recommend this show to anyone with a heartbeat.

Crystal Wood enjoyed The Grass is Greenest at the Houston Astrodome, a play about contemporary art set in a real art gallery. Energetic performances and a solid script by Michael Ross Albert make the show feel like an inside peek into the Queen West art world. Be sure to check out the artwork by female artists that line the walls.

Allison Gerson recommends Dead for a Ducat. It’s a stylish, fast-paced mash-up of the Bard and film noir. Two actors play multi parts, often swapping roles mid scene. It’s sounds complicated, but it’s so well executed you’ll get the the hang of it in no time.

Sam Mooney thinks people should go see The ABCs of Love with Adult Baby Cupid. Such a funny show and not what she was expecting, much more thoughtful. Even though Cupid’s costume was a blond wig, wings, and an adult diaper! As a late addition to the festival, the show isn’t in the printed program.

Jaclyn Enchin recommends Kev ‘n Cal: The Curse of the Jade Dragon, the dimension defying boy adventurer comedy show that is almost too funny to bear. This show has everything from wacky gags and silly situations, to realistic stage fights and deep emotional moments. Allan Turner and Christopher Hedrick are two expert comedians that will make you laugh, cry and make you ponder the very fabric of your reality.

Randy McDonald loves Cluster Fucked, a highly original piece of theatre that does a brilliant job of presenting to its audience a critical perspective of the world of Big Data. The smart, funny and very understandable script of David John Phillips is given life by an energetic cast, becoming a show that instructs and delights. Cluster Fucked should not be missed by audiences interested in the powers behind our technological world, and by theatregoers interested in new style of drama done well.

2 thoughts on “Mooney on Theatre Recommends – 2018 Toronto Fringe Festival (Part 1)”

  1. Thanks for these reviews! Under Kev and Cal, a typo: almost too funny to “bare” should be “bear.”

    Thanks again for these thoughtful reviews.

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