While you absolutely shouldn’t only stick to shows with rave reviews (there’s so much great stuff playing at the Toronto Fringe Festival!) they do give you a place to start.
Personally, I’m a big fan of picking a show that I’m pretty sure is going to be a good one and then just taking a chance on whatever is playing before or after it at the same venue. I have seen some really great stuff that way that otherwise wouldn’t have been on my radar.
In the meantime, here are some shows our writers have been raving about to get you started.
King Stag (Randolph College)
What it’s about: “King Deramo’s search for a wife is undermined by the evil prime minister Tartaglia, who tricks the king into transforming himself into a stag, while Tartaglia transforms into the king. Mayhem ensues, and paranoia threatens to unravel the whole kingdom, but love emerges triumphant in this riveting and hilarious commedia dell’arte classic.”
Why our reviewer loved it: “The show’s energy is contagious and the comic invention is impressive. Think Seinfeld doing a stand-up routine as he is slipping on a banana peel and trying hard to get in between Friends’ Rachel and Ross.”
Personal Demon Hunter (The Velvet Duke)
What it’s about: “Velvet Duke is an internationally acclaimed motivational speaker. He is a gifted communicator skilled at exorcising your personal demons through his patented PATH!© system. Today his demons are getting their exercise. He will use every tool in his arsenal to vanquish them for good, including turning to you, his fans.”
Why our reviewer loved it: “There was a genuine connection between us as the audience and Velvet, our Personal Demon Hunter. There are some fun songs, with some reminders that you should sing along, and a Q&A session that I wish was a little bit longer because I wanted more people to ask questions. I just wanted more of the show, which I think is the best indication that you should see it, and help slay everyone’s personal demons.”
Spend Your Kids’ Inheritance (Watercourse Theatre)
What it’s about: “In this reverse coming-of-age musical comedy-drama, four seniors plot to regain control of their finances and escape their Ontario retirement home. A newcomer upsets the status quo at Alpine Home, unleashing repressed desires, igniting conflict between staff and residents and their adult children. These struggles, and their dreams for their futures, create a bond between the home’s residents. They embark on a journey that forces them to wrestle with the power of choice and its consequences, and that challenges stereotypes about age, love, family… and freedom.”
Why our reviewer loved it: “Longtime fringegoers sometimes like to tell stories of what they saw when it was still a baby show. Did you see Summerland? My Mother’s Lesbian Jewish Wiccan Wedding? Kim’s Convenience? Da Kink In My Hair? The Drowsy Chaperone? Mump And Smoot? Spend Your Kids’ Inheritance almost feels destined to join this pantheon. It’s unique, it’s good, and it must be selling like hotcakes: if it appeals to you at all, get in there while you can.”
TIL DEATH: The Six Wives of Henry VIII (Monster Theatre)
What it’s about: “The Betrayed Wife. The Scheming Wife. The Peacemaker. The Ugly German. The Tarty One. The One in Love with Someone Else. Six Queens. Six Love stories. Six Deaths. One Actor! ”
Why our reviewer loved it: “There were hilarious moments with lines delivered perfectly: the cluelessness of Katherine Howard, or the physicality of demonstrating the floating head of Anne Boleyn as she was telling her story. Beyond the funny moments, Travis made me feel all the tragedy and loss in their lives. The hatred between Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn, and with each woman talking about her death at the hands of neglect, execution, or just indifference. I felt every moment in the play, and I loved it.”