Courtney Gilmour’s one-person show (Congratulations! playing at the 2019 Toronto Fringe Festival) is an endearing look into the life of a stand-up comedian living with a disability. Courtney, specifically: was born without hands and I gotta say, it was amazing to get an “inside look” into what it’s like for a woman with a visible disability to navigate the comedy scene. What a unique topic for a one-person show…
The Tarragon Theatre Solo Room is completely empty. The curtain is drawn, the back wall is bare, and the brilliant comedian Courtney Gilmour is standing centre stage, wide eyed and eager to tell her story. I could feel a bit of nervous energy from the top (this is after all, her first show of the festival), but as her story progressed, she became warmer and a lot calmer.
The show is presented in 5 “parts” which are marked by a very short lighting change and music cue. I found this a bit odd, maybe because the “scene changes” would consist of playing a pop song for only 3-4 seconds while Courtney just kind of “waited” for it to be over. Nothing really “changed” visually so it was a little bit “jarring” to watch. There were no new costumes or movement around the stage so the show seemed a little “still” and “stagnant” in places. It was definitely more in the realm of “stand-up” than theatre piece for me.
Courtney as a person is incredibly endearing. I was kind of in awe at the amount of courage this woman has to talk about such heavy subjects. She struck a really comfortable balance between bringing the laughs and comedy and getting quiet for those serious moments. Every story ended with some kind of “zinger”.
Congratulations! is an adorable, funny and touching look at the inside life of a comic with a disability.
- Congratulations! plays at the Tarragon Theatre Solo Room. (30 Bridgman 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; for adult audiences.
- This venue is wheelchair-accessible through a secondary route. Check in at the venue box office at least 15 minutes before showtime, and a staff member will escort you to the venue. Accessible seating is in the front row.
- 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, 8:15 pm
- Friday July 5th, 6:30 pm
- Sunday July 7th, 1:30 pm
- Monday July 8th, 7:30 pm
- Wednesday July 10th, 10:00 pm
- Friday July 12th, 8:45 pm
- Saturday July 13th, 5:00 pm
- Sunday July 14th, 2:45 pm
Photo of Courtney Gilmour by Tim Leyes