the princess is the pauper is a natural fit for the ornate interior of the St. Vladimir Institute‘s theatre. Onstage with Toronto Fringe 2019, we step into a fable that recounts the hard realities that follow a seemingly-heroic rebellion.
Following a revolt of the working class in a mythical kingdom, the former King and his daughter have fallen upon hard times. In their wake, the land is now ruled by a corrupt and conniving Prince who deals in bribes and subterfuge.
A cheeky and well-timed farce, we see a lot of ins and outs for characters as they plot their way around the kingdom’s political landscape. In the process, this wacky show finds time to ask surprisingly candid questions about what happens after revolution, and whether the will of the common people does more harm than good.
As much as I love zingers and political satire, I believe some aspects of our contemporary real-life political landscape are becoming too brutal to make fun of. Giggling along with thinly-veiled jabs at the Trump administration is hard to do with mounting news of the atrocities committed towards migrant children.
However, this isn’t the only source of comedy in the show, as David Kovacs’ script draws from a rich well for inspiration. The bumbling ex-king played by Jarrod Clegg is an unabashed scene stealer, and Julian Monardo’s take on the evil Prince is so charismatic and cartoonish that you almost want him to win. Though these gentlemen stood out, the whole cast elevated each other with organic banter.
Although this show reminded me of the kind of performances that might get cooked up in an exercise for a drama class, I mean this as praise. The reason this show works is that the team trust each other and embrace spontaneity while letting jokes develop naturally. This isn’t a spectacle epic that requires liberally checking Wikipedia in order to keep track of plot threads; instead the story is led by what is funny. Thank goodness this year has one fantasy story end in a satisfactory way.
- the princess is the pauper plays at the St. Vladimir Institute. (620 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.
- This venue is wheelchair-accessible through a secondary route. After the building’s business hours, a staff member will need to escort you through this route, so plan to arrive at least 15 minutes early for evening shows.
- 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, 8:30 pm
- Saturday July 6th, 10:15 pm
- Sunday July 7th, 6:15 pm
- Monday July 8th, 2:30 pm
- Wednesday July 10th, 8:30 pm
- Thursday July 11th, 9:45 pm
- Saturday July 13th, 2:30 pm
Poster image provided by the company