Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Finally...Fringe Reviews

So, I’ve finally had the chance to see a couple of the plays mentioned during my 5-Minute Fringe show on July 2nd and here are my thoughts and ratings:

Finally An Epic Cycle
Rating: **** 4/5 Stars
You’ve heard the phrase, “Keep it simple, stupid.” Thank you, Finally for sticking to a simple story that is well told and well acted. Everyone shines in this ensemble because they are all equally talented. Convincingly playing Gen, the confounded ex-girlfriend who is trying to win her ex-boyfriend (Michael Rode) back with Leaf tickets is the fresh and lovable Sarah Cody. Gen’s sardonic, comic-book nerd roommate, Will, is charmingly played by Luke Marty. There are scene stealing characters like the robot jock girl (Cassie Muise), and a Quebecois bounty hunter/bike messenger (je t’adore, Derek Perks), but considering that these cast members also play other roles with the same competence demonstrates that good casting and acting is not anathema to the Fringe. Good on ya, guys! You won’t be disappointed by this play.
Helen Gardiner Phelan Playhouse
60 min.
Fri, July 15 5:15 PM 855
Sat, July 16 1:45 PM 860

The Billy Willy Show
Rating:**** 4/5 Stars
Where were you? I was really disappointed by the small audience for this late afternoon show, but was highly entertained by this excellent character comedy. I know the late shows have been selling well, so hopefully the remaining shows will have even bigger audiences. Gay content galore, country music in small snippets, and a delivery be West Virginian native, Billy Willy, that’s drier than a Mormon bar. Hello, sister Fruit Flies, PFlag members and small town queens! Get your honey buns down to the Solo Room and have a knee-slapping good time. Think of it as a cruising while you Fringe;-)
The Solo Room (at the Randolph Academy)
45 min.
Fri, July 15 10:30 PM 539
Sat, July 16 8:00 PM 543

The Giant’s Garden
Rating:**** 4/5 Stars
I’ve seen some dreadful 90-minute shows at the Fringe, but let me tell you this isn’t one of them. Bird is a delight, and Flower is a scream in this delightful family musical. Alas, there weren’t enough kiddies (lots of grown folks, though) in the audience when I attended, but maybe the word will spread that this play, although not part of Fringe Kids, has kid appeal. As for the adult content, there’s plenty, especially lines sprouted so gaily and Diva-liciously by Flower, and sung so vampishly by Winter (“I don’t cook!)”, a woman waging a war of vengeful icicles against her sister, Summer, the Giant, and the children who love the garden. I’ve become sick and tired of body mics being used for everything, and really appreciate the cast using their natural voices rather than Auto-Tune, but not everyone is able to project well at all times. The strong singers stand out, calling attention to the lack of chops by others, but this is a minor point, and one that has probably been corrected now that the show has had a few runs.
George Ignatieff Theatre
90 min.
Fri, July 15 8:45 PM 657
Sat, July 16 4:00 PM 661

The Soaps

Rating:*** 3/5 Stars
Hmm…I was expecting more. It’s not that this improvised soap opera is not entertaining, it’s just that with the caliber of actors in the ensemble, I expected stronger characterizations. I know the story changes with every performance, as the story progresses, so maybe I saw a week night. Stand outs for me were actors, Lisa Merchant, Paul Bates, and Jim Annan, all of whom knew how to carry each improve suggestion (from the wonderful, Matt Baram) without missing a beat. Surprisingly disappointing was Robin Duke (SNL) whose scenes were cut short because of lack of delivery. I was at a loss to explain her performance.
Bathurst Street Theatre
60 min.
Fri, July 15 7:30 PM 356
Sat, July 16 4:00 PM 361
Sun, July 17 Noon 366

For all things Fringe, please visit: www.fringetoronto.com or call 416-966-1062 or 1-866-515-7799 for ticket information

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