There is space for unapologeticly angry funny theatre. It’s Getting Hot in Here! at the Toronto Fringe Festival very much stakes that space out and refuses to move from it. It is a hilariously self-aware, dreamlike set of internal monologue vignettes from inside the mind of someone who is faced with a ballot box and a choice in front of them.
That through line isn’t explicitly put out in front of you, and it isn’t a spoiler to explain. But it is a component of all the little things that make this sketch play work, and It’s Getting Hot in Here! works very well. It was very self-aware and self referential. I laughed a lot at the jokes and bits themselves, but what I loved I particular were the callback characters that would just show up and take over scenes. My second love was all the JibJab puppets of all the leaders of all the political parties, including the newer pettier ones. Those saw a lot of use during the show.
Because while the show was funny, there is an angry undercurrent that frequently became the current of the show. The anger and frustration in the writing was clearly on display and was an important part of the piece. The politics are very explicit even if it isn’t tied to a specific political party. It represents the anger of people who see the direction we should go in, and a bunch of people who intentionally don’t want to go in that direction. No political leader is spared at all.
The whole cast nails their performances. It’s a high-energy, Disney-parody-singing effort, and there isn’t a point in time in the performance when someone isn’t giving it their all. I wish I had written down the names of all the rapid-fire characters that showed up, and be able to apply them to the actors, but I was too busy laughing at the action on the stage. One character that stuck out for me was Ashlyn Kusch’s nasally environmental educator. We were introduced to her in an audience participation moment early in the show and then when she shows up in a later scene, we all died with laughter.
Which is better than dying from climate change. Which is really what the show was about, and that was reinforced by the land acknowledgement. There isn’t a second one, but much like the show being self-referential, the land acknowledgment was too. They circled back to talk about it as a living ongoing thing, and how we need to be aware of it especially with an upcoming election. This was an incredibly thoughtful moment in a comedy piece and the perfect cap (which was promptly removed because you can’t recycle black plastic in Toronto).
- It’s Getting Hot in Here! plays at the Annex Theatre. (736 Bathurst St.)
- 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.
- This venue is wheelchair-accessible through a secondary route which requires a staff escort. Check in at the box office at least 15 minutes prior to showtime.
- 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.
- Friday July 5th, 6:15 pm
- Sunday July 7th, 9:45 pm
- Tuesday July 9th, 2:15 pm
- Wednesday July 10th, 8:30 pm
- Thursday July 11th, 1:15 pm
- Friday July 12th, 10:30 pm
- Sunday July 14th, 8:15 pm
Photo of Thomas McDevitt by by Daniel Bagg