Fringe Reviews again (part 1)
Late but here's my brief review of the last three Fringe Toronto 2010 play I've seen so far.
Dating in a Disposable World:
"Set in the throwaway and pleasure- seeking culture of the “now”, Dating in a Disposable World is a modern translation of the Inuit myth- Skeleton Woman. It is a show that looks at the hopes for permanence in relationship through theatre and song."
So Fringing started rocky when H and I randomly decided to pick this play that was playing within walking distance and a good timeslot. I know Fringe is all about experimenting and seeing something different but this one fell well below the not-so-great-plays I''ve seen in the past 6 years or so at the Fringe. And I have seen some weird stuff- from a one woman act who barely spoke (and she was awesome) to life size home made puppets looking at oil crisis to the story of a suitcase left at a train station. This one was BAD. As one woman acts go, many are a hit or a total miss and this had to be worse than a miss. The writer/performer Zalia Jo might think she was showing us the perils of modern dating, but from the moment she referred to the 'internet' as 'information highway' she lost her audience. No one has called the internet that in 15 years! he character Tiffany was so far off the radar of annoying that I was close to throttling her on stage. Who is that screechy and dumb? Nor does her interleaved story lines give us any insight into the 'so called hedonistic disposable society' or 'love' for that matter. Yes the woman can sing but maybe she should have hired someone else to do the actual writing and had only shown up for the songs.
Cactus: The Seduction
"Cactus: The Seduction is about searching for love in a desert. Phil's reality is a peripatetic journey with companions. He traipses through life heading towards a mysterious figure in the distance with Uri, a doubtful liar and Eric, a tender Englishman. Along the way Phil periodically falls into a fantasy world where he's a performer in front of an audience. Cactus mixes stand-up, story-telling, characters and dance in an explosion-of-imagination."
Since experimenting left me so deflated (not just because of the heat) I had to go back to my tried the true Fringe tactic. Draw up a list and cross reference with what the reviews are saying. Luckily this one matched up perfectly. If there was a play that showed the true nature of love this one was it. Bonus was that it was wrapped up so much funny that included randomness like scorpions in love and even crowd surfing. You might be too busy laughing to notice, but it was quite smart how Jonno Katz drafted his play which ultimately does seduce the audience into not just joining him along for a crazy ride of physical comedy but also share his earnest efforts at deciphering the nature of love, sex and reality.
A MUST see! Don't worry if the advance tickets are sold out. Go an hour before tho show and you'll get tickets.
"by TJ Dawe"- thats all we needed to know
I've been duly following Dawe's performances in every Fringe since the 'One Man's LOTR' and its been fascinating observing his evolution from creative plays, to hilarious autobiographical monologues to the philosophical musings undercut with more family anecdotes that he brings with Luky 9 which is a monologue about life. He talked about his childhood, his sister’s knitting and crafting, his mother, his father’s enthusiasm about The Wire, Dr. Gabor Mate’s books and the Enneagram of personality, addictions and chasing dopamine, and his own personal development. Clearly his work is highly anticipated among Fringe circles with good reason. Yes its not his funniest work but it is a lot more memorable this time. At the same time I'm not sure if I'd recommend the play to someone who's never been to a Fringe play. He is still the best at monologues but those expected side splitting laughs might not enjoy it as much.
The Carnegie Hall Show
"Its improv" (thats all the Program said)
The moment I saw the names and faces of Second City alumni Matt Baram and Naomi Snieckus on the cast list of this show, I was hooked and giddy with anticipation. The play doesn't fail at all. As improv shows at the Fringe goes you can't probably find a better one. They took suggestion from the audience(our night was about Miracles) and make a history of the greatest improvised scenes of that event or item. Of course there is no history. They just make it up. The second part of the show is a live 1940s radio drama, complete with commercials. The cast has the best thing that is elementary to great improv- chemistry and restraint. They were great at picking up cues to the the story as they went along and killed lazy ones quickly before everyone caught on. It was magic. To go back to a comparison with 'Dating', there was two entire songs that were performed on the Carnegie Hall Show which were amazing!
Another must see!
Next on the list is 'Double Double' 'Pick of the Fringe' and 'Factcheck'. I'll try and review them as I see them.