Mal (Crowning Monkey) 2010 Toronto Fringe Review

By Sam Mooney

mal_phixr One of the things I really enjoy about Fringe is that it gives me an opportunity to see shows that are outside my comfort zone. I really don’t like clowns. Mal (Rachelle Elie) is a clown.

Through the first ten minutes of the show I was thinking that I had made a mistake in coming and that it was going to be a long hour. Then Mal started to sneak up on me, I started enjoying the show. By the end I was really glad that I had come.

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Dinosaur Ego (Bugs In Amber) – 2010 Fringe Festival Toronto

By Adam Collier

A company called Bugs In Amber is mounting a play at St. George’s Auditorium as part of Fringe. The title of the play is Dinosaur Ego. St. George’s Auditorium is a regal space (a banner on one wall reads “Manners Maketh Men”). And – blissfully – has air-conditioning.

Dinosaur Ego begins with a young couple having sex. The guy says, “I love you” as he climaxes, and a few post-coital moments later the girl dumps him.

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The Hurt is Astounding (sum of us collective) – 2010 Toronto Fringe Review

By Amber Landgraff

A description of the sum of us collective states that the entire company is under 21. For such young performers The Hurt is Astounding covers some weighty material.

The story is centered in a coffee shop. It offers little vignettes into the love lives of the people in the shop. Centering the story are the flights of fancy of the young barista, and the quiet musings of a young man about his unrequited love for her.
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Waiting for André (Hard Times) – 2010 Toronto Fringe Review

By Amber Landgraff

I went to see Waiting for André, written and performed by John Arthur Sweet, on Monday. I wanted to like the performance, with its gentle romantic storyline, and an endearing performance by Sweet, but I’m starting to think that one-man shows may not be my kind of thing.

It is extraordinarily difficult to write and perform a one-man show, so kudos to Sweet for taking on the difficult task. For all intents and purposes these shows involve one actor catching and keeping the attention of an audience for 60 minutes.
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Lambs In Winter (Riverslea) – 2010 Fringe Festival Toronto

By Adam Collier

A company named Riverslea is staging a play as part of the Fringe at the Bathurst Street Theatre. The title is Lambs In Winter.

A placard at the ticket table announces that the performers appear courtesy of Actors Equity. I figured that might be a good sign.

Lambs In Winter begins with a rant on global warming. The speaker is a neo-conservative baby boomer named Tony (Allan Price). Several more diatribes on politics follow.

(*editors note: There are spoilers in this piece, although I think I removed the biggest one, still, read with caution)

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Amy Zuch's Key to Key (Combustive Theatre) – 2010 Toronto Fringe Review

By Dana Lacey

Fat animator becomes skinny performer – a story of what happens in between playing at the Toronto Fringe Festival

Songs about Orangeville, life lessons learned at Sheridan College, an ode to a yet-unconceived ugly baby. These are just a few gems from the 2010 Fringe Festival’s Amy Zuch’s Key to Key. On the surface, it’s about a fat animator who becomes a skinny performer. But it’s more than that – it’s a personal tale (starring the writer herself) that portrays her younger, lumpier and obsessive-compulsive self as she takes the steps toward a healthier self and a career that doesn’t revolve around creating unrealistic Disney princesses. Continue reading Amy Zuch's Key to Key (Combustive Theatre) – 2010 Toronto Fringe Review

Me, My Stuff and I: A Multimedia Comedy (Barry Smith) 2010 Toronto Fringe Review

By Sam Mooney

Barry Smith Me, My Stuff and I is playing at the George Ignatieff Theatre – an air conditioned venue! Today, that was a bonus.

I’m a big fan of Barry Smith. I first saw him three years ago when he did Jesus in Montana and then 2 years ago when he did American Squatter. I said then that I’d go see Barry Smith read the phone book. It still holds. In fact I could just copy and paste that review here.

We follow Barry through his childhood as he fills in the blank spaces in his baby book with old pictures, his grade 1 class work, his year book, home movies, a journal, and videos – the stuff.

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Public Speaking (Chris Craddock) – 2010 Fringe Festival Toronto

By Darryl Pring

One person shows are the backbone of any fringe festival. From TJ Dawe to Jem Rolls to Chris Gibbs, there has been no shortage of genius individual performances. Chris Craddock has, in the past, reached these heights. But in his one person show Public Speaking showing at the Helen Gardiner, he falls a little short.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a decent show. Bradley Moss’ direction is tight and clean, pacing the show at a breakneck speed. The lighting is simple and effective. But the impression I got was he attempted to squeeze a 75 minute (at least) show into a 60 minute slot (even though it ran 65 minutes).

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Sia (Pyretic Productions) 2010 Toronto Fringe Review

By George Perry

Brendan McMurtry-Holett, Thomas Antony Olajide and Jajube Mandiela Sia is the story about a young student who travels to West Africa to do volunteer work.  It’s playing at St.Vladimir’s Theatre on Spadina during Fringe.

The venue is old and certainly nothing fancy.  It reminded me of being in a church auditorium.  This is quite fitting, because this play involves much soul searching.  It is very emotional and many people left with damp eyes.  At times the performance was as powerful as a religious experience.

Sia combines the birth and uncertainty of a new “friendship” of two men.  It’s actually a hostage situation, but there are undertones of a friendship.

Brendan McMurty-Howlett plays the Nick volunteer and Thomas Antony Olajide plays Abraham.  Olajide is particularly powerful.  His acting is especially convincing and his presence exceptional.  He holds a 2nd degree Black Belt, which pays huge dividends in terms of his confidence and non verbal communication.

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Factcheck (Aperian Stage Company) – 2010 Toronto Fringe Review

By Crystal Wood

Factcheck is an actor’s play, to be sure. Courtenay Stevens plays all of the 16 characters in this show about an overstressed magazine fact-checker. This gives him a chance to practice his voices, switch his focus, and carry a 60-minute show by himself.

He does it well. Stevens’ skill is impressive and there are many funny moments. I felt a little schizophrenic just trying to keep up with him. But unfortunately, Courtenay’s performance doesn’t make up for the fact that there’s an underlying discomfort throughout the play.

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