Sketchy Adventures in the Enchanted Forest, created by Playing with Fire Productions, transforms the Al Green Theatre into a magical faraway land for Toronto Fringe 2019. However, like any good fairy tale, we should be careful what we wish for.
In this colourful coming-of-age tale, we follow a Girl (played by Grace Munro) sneaking out after curfew in order to pursue the adventure she craves in the titular Enchanted Forest. Along the way she gets involved with some sketchy characters in the woods; shady lawyers on the prowl, an anti-social unicorn, and a zombie police officer.
Adult humour with youthful storytelling provides solid framework that lets the actors play. The Girl’s journey unfolds in a series of sketches (hence the name – good pun!) with the overarching plot coming together gradually.
Munro’s co-stars Damien Gulde and Amy Slattery do a great deal of heavy lifting by portraying the dozens of zany forest folk we meet, each with wholly unique looks, voices, and body language. The changes between characters, often occurring mid-scene including costume quick-changes, could give SNL a run for their money. My particular favourite was a moment where Gulde goes from the Girl’s overbearing father to a zombie police officer with a split-second duck behind the curtain.
While I didn’t quite understand the zombie cop character’s presence in a fantasy-based show that relied on more genre-typical tropes, the actor’s physicality and vocal performance for the character is seamless. I didn’t feel like I was just looking at a guy acting like a zombie to get laughs.
Munro was a charming ingenue, although it took until about the show’s second half for her to warm up entirely. She is an admirable straight man for her co-stars, but playing the “naive sheltered girl” type didn’t read from the stage and she seemed more timid.
Pacing could have been quicker, and I think the cast could lean more into the screwball and farce elements by making the entrances, exits and dialogue exchange more snappy. Be clever, not ponderous.
I also believe more music and sound cues might make this show more lively. The times they were used were meaningful, such as a dramatic musical flourish around one of the story’s plot devices. A more developed soundscape would help compliment more prominent sound cues. Since we’re in an enchanted forest, it shouldn’t sound empty.
Overall, this is an entertaining and good-spirited show with some highly driven and funny people behind it. Especially fun for those of us who are big kids.
- Sketchy Adventures in the Enchanted Forest 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; not recommended for children.
- 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.
- Thursday July 4th, 6:30 pm
- Saturday July 6th, 12:30 pm
- Sunday July 7th, 8:30 pm
- Tuesday July 9th, 10:15 pm
- Wednesday July 10th, 5:00 pm
- Thursday July 11th, 1:45 pm
- Sunday July 14th, 5:15 pm
Photo of cast L-R: Damien Gulde, Grace Munro, and Amy Slattery.
Photographer: Jon Chaters