What makes the Fringe Festival so fun is that you really never know what you’re going to get when you shuffle into the theatre at some odd time of day: I certainly wasn’t expecting what I saw this afternoon at The Joy of Sax, Flash in the Deadpan’s Toronto Fringe production. Described by the company as fitting into the “new genre of saxploitation comedy”, The Joy of Sax is a bizarre tale of a young man named Luke (Cam Parkes) who inherits his father’s saxophone and finds that he has a special gift – no, not a musical talent (much to my dismay, the only sounds to come out of the horn were loud, blasting screeches), but the inexplicable ability to arouse and lead to orgasm any who are within earshot of his “music”. Can’t say that it’s not original!
Unfortunately, I think “original” is the kindest adjective I can use to describe this play. From the hard-to-follow plot, to the almost complete lack of comedic timing, The Joy of Sax is not much of a joy to watch. As the smarmy agent, Lex Stultz misses nearly every beat, turning even the clever lines into something that falls painfully flat. Likewise, Cam Parkes as Luke/Duke seems to always be just slightly behind, so that, despite being the main character, he’s really not compelling to watch. Most of the actors play multiple roles, and few are worth mentioning. Some bright spots do include Kimberley Wells’ Music Teacher, a role I wish was expanded upon, as well as Ted Powers’ Father, who, despite seeming a little out of place in the show, was quite funny.
Written, directed and produced by Tim Phillips, the play feels cluttered and confused, something that I think often happens when one person takes on many roles. There were quite a few funny jokes and clever lines scattered throughout – the Agent’s frequently misquoted expressions, such as “let’s not argue ceramics” (as opposed to “semantics”) would have likely gotten more laughs with some better delivery – but the overall plot and structure left a lot to be desired. Add to that some out-of-place and unnecessary sound effects, plus that screeching saxophone, and you end up with a show that is a bit of a miss.
For more information on The Joy of Sax, check out their show page on the Toronto Fringe Festival website. The Fringe runs from July 4 – 15, 2018.