Saturday, 3 July 2010

Fringe Reviews: Not Just For Kids

This is my first year covering FringeKids! and like the rest of the Fringe you get the good with the bad. When you have a festival based on a lottery system that's just the way things work, and it's also what I like about the Fringe. The fact that you never know what you're going to get when you walk through those theatre doors. With FringeKids! I was bored, bewildered and beguiled. Read on...

The Blackheart Princess
by Nelson Yu
(www.sunnyleo.com)
presented by Sunny Leo Productions from Toronto
Genre: Musical

DESCRIPTION: Princess Buttercup’s kingdom is under attack by a vicious dragon, Leonard. So when she meets a rapping pirate,
Blackheart, she convinces him to visit its treasure-filled lair to slay it. When Leonard hears of this plan, he snatches her away to The Cave of No Return. Blackheart goes to rescue her, but he discovers a secret more valuable than gold.

MY REVIEWThis one is definitely for the kiddies. They had a ball watching this play. One little boy in the audience was particularly fixed on one of the props, squealing out to his mother that he wanted it. Even at the end of the play he was asking his mom if she was going to get it for him! The singing and rapping won't get any of the actors a contract, and the acting is average, at best, but it wouldn't be too painful for parents to sit through this with the kiddies who will respond to the Tickle Trunk costumes and simple story. Rating: 2.5/5 stars.

50 min.
Sat, July 3 2:30 PM
Mon, July 5 12:45 PM
Wed, July 7 6:00 PM
Thu, July 8 2:30 PM
Sat, July 10 12:15 PM
Sun, July 11 6:00 PM

The Boy Who Cried Wolf
by Aesop, Created by the Company
(TwoWolvesTheatreProductions.com)
presented by Two Wolves Theatre Productions from Toronto
Director: M.E. Jenkins
Genre: Play-Comedy

DESCRIPTION:“The Boy Who Cried Wolf” is a classic fable by Aesop, which teaches the moral that liars never prosper. The classic tale is cleverly subverted in this satire of Greek theatre, switching the traditional protagonist and antagonist roles. This show is a fun modernist take on a beloved fable that will be entertaining for the whole family.

MY REVIEWA "satire of Greek theatre"? Why? That's the question I wanted to ask from the moment I entered the theatre to watch this play. Why did you choose to have scary sheep standing in place in a darkened theatre with ominous music playing? Why did you choose to keep the theatre so dark even when the tone of the script lightened? Why did you choose to interrupt a perfectly good classic story to venture off into a treatise about the acting experience? Why did you forget that your audience was made of children who are scared of the dark? Why did you think that you could palm off bad acting on children? If my tone sounds harsh it's because this play is a mess. Children deserve good acting, too. It's a shame that the actors playing the sheep (the only good element of the play) had their roles diminished so the script could explore the hardship of actors trying to find a part. Rating: 1/5 stars.

30 min.
Sun, July 4 12:45 PM
Mon, July 5 7:45 PM
Tue, July 6 12:45 PM
Thu, July 8 4:15 PM
Fri, July 9 6:00 PM
Sat, July10 11:00 AM

The Cat of Kensington
by Kirsten Harvey
(Check us out on Facebook!)
presented by Cats in the Cradle Productions from Toronto
Director: Shaun McComb
Genre: Musical

DESCRIPTION:Imagine you’re a struggling artist with unsupportive parents, an even less supporting landlord and a grumbling stomach. What is one to do? Turn to the help of one’s pet cat, of course. In this musical retelling of the Puss In Boots folk tale, set in the fish-rich air of Kensington Market, art is cheap and dreams can possibly come true.

MY REVIEWThis is a delight for parents and children. The acting is good, the songs are entertaining (live keyboard playing), and the story is written on two levels: the adults will get the references to trendy, drum-circle Kensington, and the children will relate to the magic of a talking cat. Any trepidations I might have had about younger children "getting" the play were squashed by four year olds, Ellery and Mathis who both loved the play, especially the music. Rating: 4.5/5 stars

45 min.
Sun, July 4 5:30 PM
Mon, July 5 2:30 PM
Tue, July 6 3:45 PM
Wed, July 7 4:15 PM
Thu, July 8 12:45 PM
Fri, July 9 2:30 PM
Sun, July 11 4:15 PM

Fairy Tale Ending
Music and Lyrics by Kieren MacMillan & Jeremy Hutton
Book by Jeremy Hutton
(www.fairytaleending.ca)
presented by Roll Your Own Theatre from Toronto
Director: Jeremy Hutton
Choreographer: Ashleigh Powell
Music Director: Kieren MacMillan
Genre: Musical

DESCRIPTION:Join Jill as a “line up” of characters is questioned about the sudden changes occurring in their fairy tales. A topsy-turvy yet touching tale of a young girl coming to grips with loss and the reality of growing up. With catchy songs like “I, like, totally don’t even give a care” and “You don’t know Jack”.

MY REVIEWAnother winner! Again, I recommend this play for adults and children. A well-scripted, well-acted musical peppered with lyrics that will have adults roaring with laughter, and comic antics that will have the children squealing. With the Big Bad Wolf, Goldilocks, The Three Little Pigs, and a very ugly Troll, children will see recognizable characters while the adults will react to the these characters confessing their crimes (breaking and entering, eating porcine, threatening billy goats) while in a police line up. The storyline is wrapped up a little too quickly and I'm not sure the children will get the complex moral of loss, but seven year old Sidney told me she liked the character of Jill (especially her dress) and loved the music.Rating: 4/5 stars.

60 min.
Sat, July 3 4:15 PM
Sun, July 4 2:00 PM
Mon, July 5 11:00 AM
Wed, July 7 2:30 PM
Thu, July 8 5:30 PM
Fri, July 9 11:00 AM
Sat, July10 3:45 PM

One Eyes, Two Eyes, Three Eyes
by Nicole McQueen
(www.freewebs.com/ upsidedownfrownproductions)
presented by Upside Down Frown Productions from Toronto
Genre: Play-Comedy

DESCRIPTION:Two-Eyes is treated badly by her sisters, One-Eye and Three-Eyes, who don’t give her enough to eat. One day, she meets an elf, who offers her a flute and an incantation that will provide plenty of food. The sisters become suspicious, but more charms ensue, leading Two-Eye to a knight in shining armor.

MY REVIEWThis story is simple enough for children to follow, but it is boring! The acting is stilted, there are too many set changes (keep it simple!), and there is no audience interaction. The energy level was so low that there was no magic in this Cinderella tale. The play also dragged on longer than the expected 30 minutes. As I said on Facebook, I should have left with the crying baby, but I hate walking out of small venues where leaving is so very obvious and disruptive. Rating: 1.5/5 stars.

30 min.
Sat, July 3 6:00 PM
Sun, July 4 3:45 PM
Tue, July 6 11:00 AM
Wed, July 7 12:45 PM
Thu, July 8 11:00 AM
Fri, July 9 4:15 PM
Sun, July 11 11:00 AM

All FringeKids! plays will be at the Palmerston Library Theatre - 560 Palmerston Ave.
Tickets: $10 at the door. $5 for kids.
Info: 416-966-1062. www.fringetoronto.com

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