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July 2008
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2008-07-02 »

Toronto Fringe Festival Suggestions

Congratulations, Torontonians, your Fringe Festival starts today and runs until July 13th. Since a lot of shows tour from East to West and Montreal is the first one of the season, my friend Elaine asked me to recommend some good shows based on what I saw in Montreal. So my good deed for today will be to offer you some assorted preview reviews:

  • Blastback Babyzap. Go see it. It's by Uncalled For. QED.

  • Teaching the Fringe, by Keir Cutler. Except that Dr. Cutler won't be able to make it to your fringe, so Barry Smith, of Barry Smith's Baby Book (not to be seen in Toronto), will be doing the show on his behalf. That's a bit strange, because both Teaching the Fringe and Baby Book are autobiographical, and so now Barry is doing someone else's autobiography. Oh well, both of them were good. You might as well give it a shot.

  • American Squatter, also by Barry Smith. Apparently it was popular. I didn't see it, but Smith himself is pretty funny. Who knows?

  • 'Beth. As advertised.

  • Transcendental Masturbation. Not as advertised.

  • Wonderbar! and Balls! Both titles are exclamatory, but both shows I missed.

  • The Diaries of Adam and Eve. Luckily for you, it's cancelled.

  • The Tricky Part. Didn't see it, heard it was awesome.

  • Die Roten Punkte. Go see this. Really.

  • Telegrams from the New Canadian Cinema. Didn't see it. Heard nothing about it.

  • Time to Put my Socks On. Be sure you know what you're getting into.

  • Crude Love. Reputedly good. I didn't see this one either. Gee, I'm starting to sense a pattern here.

  • Greed. Well done. Time-twisted plot exposition. Cute girls.
    Update 2008/07/02: Hmm, I've been told there was only one girl. Anyway, she had many cute outfits.

  • Jem Rolls. Dude, it's Jem Rolls. Of course you have to go see him. If you don't know why, then you have to go see him even more.

  • Mating Rituals of the Urban Cougar. Pretty good, especially the songs. Unless I got it mixed up with something else, that is. Actually, I'm pretty sure I did. Well, it was pretty good anyway, I think.

  • The Spy. This came to Montreal for a one-night show. The guy was super nervous and unfortunately it showed. But the show was otherwise excellent, and if he can get into his groove, it'll be awesome. Maybe wait for a later showing just in case.

  • Totem Figures, by the increasingly infamous TJ Dawe. The guy talks at top speed for 90 minutes and doesn't forget any lines. Worth seeing just for that, although he seems a little oversold to me. Reputedly the only guy to ever make a full-time career out of doing fringe shows.

And two troupes with three shows that you won't be seeing because they're not coming to Toronto but they're so awesome that I have to mention them anyway:

  • Identity Crisis by Influxdance. More serious and scaled down than previous years, but still excellent. Sadly, they seem to be done for the summer. Too bad.

  • The Cody Rivers Show: Stick to Glue, and Boom (by one guy from the Cody Rivers Show). Neither of the members is named Cody Rivers, but they're both awesome. Looks like they'll be in Edmonton, if you're lucky enough to live there, or Minnesota, if you're not.

And by the way, if you're going to the Toronto fringe, make sure you mention to them how lame the Fringe Donation Buckets system is, where you basically have salespeople nagging you while you line up for every single show. Please, please, if your fringe festival is going to collapse without these donations, then just charge a service fee per ticket like they do in Montreal. Seriously, guys. It's either optional or it's not. Stop harassing me already. You want people to go to more shows, but the lineup harassment gets less fun every time.

But all that said... you Torontonians have a great selection of shows waiting for you, including a huge number that didn't make it to Montreal. Have fun fringing!


Update (2008/07/02): jnc has some alternative opinions.

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