I read the info for Personal Demon Hunter on the Toronto Fringe Festival site and expected the kind of show that really does a send up of motivational speaking. Something that was irreverent, funny, self-aware, and ready to make fun of the whole enterprise. That is not what I got at all, and I think that was a very good thing. Instead, Personal Demon Hunter is a very sincere walk down Velvet Duke’s PATH(c) to fight both his and your personal demons.
A big reason for that is how charismatic and compelling I found Velvet. He stood up there on stage and led the audience through personal stories and reflective songs, calling out to the audience and building that gateway of trust. It was easy for me to get lost because I felt that the line between performance and personal stories was blurred and I didn’t know what was fiction, what was fact, and what stories were the mixed up versions of both. Ultimately it didn’t matter at all because it felt all real.
There is an audience participation element, but even if you hate that kind of thing in a performance, it was handled in the most beautiful and gracious way I have ever seen. Almost right from the beginning the rules on how we would be kind to each other in this were established. It felt like one of those self-help seminars, which in effect this kind of was, but at no point did it ring false. Because of that I got to hear stories about dealing with imposter syndrome and things people were afraid of. At no point did it feel forced or artificial. There was a genuine connection between us as the audience and Velvet, our Personal Demon Hunter.
There are some fun songs, with some reminders that you should sing along, and a Q&A session that I wish was a little bit longer because I wanted more people to ask questions. I just wanted more of the show, which I think is the best indication that you should see it, and help slay everyone’s personal demons.
Sidenote: You might be eligible for a 25% discount on your next PATH system workshop if you bring your own Personal Demon.
- Personal Demon Hunter plays at the Imperial Pub. (54 Dundas St. E.)
- 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; 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, 8:00 pm
- Thursday July 4th, 8:00 pm
- Friday July 5th, 8:00 pm
- Saturday July 6th, 3:00 pm
- Saturday July 6th, 8:00 pm
- Wednesday July 10th, 8:00 pm
- Thursday July 11th, 8:00 pm
- Friday July 12th, 8:00 pm
- Saturday July 13th, 3:00 pm
- Saturday July 13th, 8:00 pm
Photo of Velvet Wells by Luke Peters