Unbridled Futurism (makesndoes) 2019 Toronto Fringe Review

Photo of Nick Di Gaetano in "Unbridled Futurism"

Hey, have you ever dropped acid then watched Star Trek? And I don’t mean regular Star Trek, I mean the weird, surreal, peak-sci-fi stuff.

That’s where you’ll find Unbridled Futurism (playing at the Toronto Fringe Festival), equal parts concept album, character comedy, and hour-long Trek trip. It won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but if you’re inclined to (boldly) go, co-creator and star Nick di Gaetano will take you where no man has gone before.

I wasn’t expecting Unbridled Futurism to be so music-forward, with Gaetano leading a four-piece combo (Matt Ouimet on bass, Mike Lee on drums, and Alex Tindal covering synth, horns and rhythm guitar). The tracks felt distinct (a little Nirvana, a little Bowie, a little ’70s jam band…), and the music helps pump up the show’s energy, but while I liked the overall effect, I think I would have preferred to see a more intimate staging: in many places the lyrics get swallowed up by the volume, pace or effects, so if those words are important, that’s a pity.

I’m also going to come out and admit that I found a lot of the character comedy hit-or-miss, in part because a lot of it felt heavy on the exposition — and a lot of that exposition doesn’t lead to an obvious payoff. On the other hand, this does make the universe feel more complete and stable: again, you can see a glimmer of a concept album here.

Coming away from this piece, I felt like I often do at the end of the first episode of a sci-fi series, all loaded down with rules for that universe, and archetypes, and the latest and greatest technobabble, but not always sure where we’re going with it all. I think I’m more interested in what Unbridled Futurism becomes, than I am in what it is.

This review is based on the July 3 preview performance of the production.

Details

  • Unbridled Futurism plays at the Al Green Theatre. (750 Spadina 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; fog or haze effects; strobe lights.
  • This venue is barrier-free. Note that only certain building entrances are wheelchair-accessible. Accessible seating is in front of 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.

Performances

  • Sunday July 7th, 10:15 pm
  • Monday July 8th, 8:00 pm
  • Wednesday July 10th, 1:00 pm
  • Friday July 12th, 4:30 pm
  • Saturday July 13th, 9:15 pm

Photograph of Nick Di Gaetano by John Bregar.

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