Clotheswap was officially the first show of the 2019 Toronto Fringe Festival and if you believe that the first show is indicative of the whole festival, then this is going to be a great year, because I thought Clotheswap was phenomenal.
This show hits every single sweet spot that it’s swinging at. A group of old friends — with a new addition — meet at Renata’s dead grandmother’s house to have a Clotheswap party. Partly just for the joy of the clotheswap, but partly because Renata wants to use it to clear away her dead grandmother’s clothes. The show is touching without being overly sentimental. It’s personal without being too uncomfortable. The characters are funny, without falling into caricature. It felt like it was a real conversation between real people happening in front of us.
That’s the word I want to use for my feelings here. It felt very real. I was laughing at all the jokes, but in a way that I felt I was participating. The characters felt real, and so when the actors started improving comments with the clothes that the audience brought, I was reacting right there with them. When they fought I had that uncomfortable feeling you get when you’re in a room and people start to air their dirty laundry. Even the ending was real, it was uncomfortable, it wasn’t neat, but it was very real and it left me feeling messily satisfied. That’s very much thanks to the wonderful script from Amanda Barker and Dale Boyer.
The cast of Clotheswap is a very experienced and phenomenal group. The stand outs for me were Cassie Cao’s Erin whose timing was perfect, especially when dealing with a cat in a lululemon bag. But beyond that, Cao was always perfect with every pseudo-spiritual-I-have-a-post-about-that-on-my-phone interruption. Parker’s Renata was funny, and delivered sharp, funny quips that made me snicker more than once. But beyond that it was Parker bring out Renata’s moments of sadness and anger that drew me in to the character. Even then everyone else had fantastic moments, from Tarah Consoli’s Geri talking about how she fell in love in a shirt, to Ashley Comeau’s Krimp explaining how she would feel in a jacket, to Amanda Barker’s Brenda taking a moment to talk about her “new multi-level business.” I love all the cast because they were fantastic.
If you get a chance to see it, you simply must go to Clotheswap. Not only is it a phenomenal show, it’s a show that’s aware. The clothes are available for people to swap after the show, and whatever is left is donated to Dress for Success Toronto and Sistering, two great organizations that can use the donations. And as an added bonus, the Textile Museum of Canada is providing free admission for all Clotheswap ticket holders for the duration of the festival.
It’s a trifecta of awesomeness. A phenominal show, a trip to the museum, and a clothing donation to some great organizations. I would recommend you look through your closets, and be a third time clotheswapper and find things you don’t wear anymore but want to go to a good place and bring them to the show.
- Clotheswap plays at the Textile Museum of Canada. (55 Centre 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 (275 Bathurst St.), and — if any remain — from the venue’s box office starting one hour before curtain.
- Content Warnings: mature language; sexual content; audience participation; not recommended for children.
- Be aware that Fringe performances always start exactly on time, and that latecomers are never admitted.
- The Toronto Fringe Festival is scent-free: please do not wear perfumes, colognes, or other strongly-scented products.
- Wednesday July 3rd, 12:00 pm
- Wednesday July 3rd, 7:00 pm
- Thursday July 4th, 12:00 pm
- Friday July 5th, 12:00 pm
- Friday July 5th, 3:00 pm
- Saturday July 6th, 12:00 pm
- Tuesday July 9th, 12:00 pm
- Wednesday July 10th, 12:00 pm
- Wednesday July 10th, 7:00 pm
- Thursday July 11th, 12:00 pm
- Friday July 12th, 12:00 pm
- Friday July 12th, 3:00 pm
- Saturday July 13th, 12:00 pm
Photo of Dale Boyer and Amanda Barker by Bryan Cacciatore