Toronto Fringe Festival Review: Caitlin & Eric Are Broken Up

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“You can’t be that attractive and funny” — well, not unless you’re Caitlin Robson and Eric Miinch. Catch the comedic duo in Caitlin & Eric Are Broken Up, produced by Squeaky Wheel, and playing now at the Toronto Fringe Festival. Check out another one of my 2017 Toronto Fringe Festival reviews via Mooney on Theatre.

REVIEW: Dan’s Inferno

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You may have seen versions of Dante’s Inferno before, but I doubt you’ve seen one with a talking toilet, and while we’ve all seen plays about the regrets we have at the end of life, chances are you haven’t seen one as strangely funny and sincerely touching as Dan’s Inferno, playing now as part of the 2016 Toronto Fringe.

The show comes from the minds of Toronto’s Fratwurst comedy troupe, and features the talents of Eric Miinch (Fratwurst), Josh Murray (Fratwurst, Second City Education Company), Evan Arppe (Fratwurst, Host of The Watchllist on CHCH), Natalie Metcalfe (2 Humans, CBC-True Dating Stories), Lance Byrd (The Weaker Vessels), Peyton LeBarr, (Twelfe Night- Ale House Theatre) and Chris Murray (Chaisse Gallerie- Red One Collective). It’s a story about Dan (Miinch), a young man who wasted his life on Earth but finds purpose in what comes after. Sound typical? A bit. But the twisted collection of characters (trolls, the aforementioned talking toilet, aptly named John) will keep you guessing and, frequently, laughing til it hurts.

The overall structure of the play is a little odd; at times it feels like sketch comedy, at times it’s a mini musical, and thrown together are cleverly crafted typical theatre moments (artistic transitions, moments of sweet sincerity) mixed in with absolutely absurd, almost improvised (sounding) comedy. As a whole it may require a little further polishing, but I can honestly say I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Highlights include some far-too-relatable songs by wannabe actress, Beatrice (Metcalfe); Purgatory babies soaring through the air and subsequently being torn limb-from-limb by Dan, desperate to go to Hell (Miinch); and a wonderfully timed lighting cue in which everything pauses so that a man and his dog can have a final goodbye before a second, sudden death (kudos to stage manager Maddox Campbell on the timing there).

I think this is the type of show best taken as-is and enjoyed. If I give it a lot of thought, I could pick out some issues, but the fact of it is I laughed through most of it and left with a smile on my face, something unfortunately difficult to do with many sketch shows, not to mention Fringe productions.

Verdict: Very weird, very fun – check it out.
Rating: 4/5 stars

Check out my Fringe Picks post for showtimes and more details.

REVIEW: Behold, The Barfly!

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If you’re looking for nudity, strobe lights and God himself, check out Spoon Vs Hammer’s Behold, The Barfly! playing now at the Monarch Tavern as part of the 2016 Toronto Fringe. Written and directed by the very funny Justin Haigh, this laugh-out-loud sketch show features the talents of Elizabeth Anacleto (Mark Purvis Award winner, Toronto Festival of Clowns), Jeff Hanson (Edmund, Storefront Theatre), Steve Hobbs (writer for Second City, CBC Punchline), Marsha Mason (Second City National Touring Company), Kevin MacPherson (Sex T-Rex, Robin Hood: The Legendary Musical Comedy), Eric Miinch (sketch troupe Fratwurst, Bygone Theatre’s Wait Until Dark), Ned Petrie (CBC Radio, Second City, Teletoon’s Night Sweats) and Sarah Thorpe (HereticLove Is A Poverty You Can Sell); with a cast like that you know you’re in for a good time.

I won’t describe any of the scenes as I don’t want to give away punchlines, but I’ll say that highlights included a passionate but slightly misguided children’s face painter, a holy unicorn, probably the most terrifying comic you’ve ever seen, an unusual trip to the Science Centre and two news announcer types who very eagerly tell you all about things that “make no fucking sense”. Add to that some popular songs that will have you asking, “are those really the lyrics??” and Benedict Cumberbatch (really! well, sort of) and it makes for a thoroughly enjoyable evening. Plus, it’s in a tavern, so you can drink!

Verdict: Definitely worth seeing
Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Check out my Fringe Picks blog for show times & more details.

 

 

My Top 5, 2016 Toronto Fringe Picks

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Every year at the Fringe those of us in the theatre community get very excited & very overwhelmed; it’s a chance to see everyone (many describe it as “Christmas for actors”) but also a time when you try frantically to fit into your schedule all the shows you feel you “must” see. I know there’s already a lot of “must see” lists out there but, hell, why not throw one more into the mix? These are 5 that I know will rock because of the fantastic people involved.

Behold, The Barfly!

Where: Monarch Tavern, 12 Clinton Street (Site Specific)

When: 
buy tickets  June 29th at 7:00 PM
buy tickets  June 30th at 7:00 PM
buy tickets  July 1st at 7:00 PM
buy tickets  July 2nd at 7:00 PM
buy tickets  July 3rd at 7:00 PM
buy tickets  July 5th at 7:00 PM
buy tickets  July 6th at 7:00 PM
buy tickets  July 7th at 7:00 PM
buy tickets  July 8th at 7:00 PM
buy tickets  July 9th at 3:00 PM
buy tickets  July 9th at 7:00 PM
buy tickets  July 10th at 7:00 PM

What: From the writer of the smash hit ‘Love is a Poverty You Can Sell’ (★★★★★ / NNNNN) comes a surreal and cerebral sketch spectacular featuring some of Toronto’s finest comedy talent! Peer into the pickled subconscious of a slumbering barfly and behold the wonders within: Mirth! Adventure! Mediocre Poetry! Sober contemplation of life choices! Dinosaurs?

Why: Writer Justin Haigh is hilarious and the very talented Eric Miinch is in this show as well (his own show comes later on this list). Who doesn’t love clever sketch comedy?

Bright Lights

Where: Tarragon Theatre Mainspace

When:
buy tickets  June 29th at 10:30 PM
buy tickets  July 1st at 8:45 PM
buy tickets  July 3rd at 3:30 PM
buy tickets  July 5th at 6:30 PM
buy tickets  July 6th at 12:00 PM
buy tickets  July 8th at 6:00 PM
buy tickets  July 9th at 11:30 PM

What: From Kat Sandler, Theatre Brouhaha, and the creative minds behind the Fringe smash hits Punch Up, Morro and Jasp, Peter n’ Chris, and Shakey-Shake & Friends comes a new dark comedy about survival, trust, and an alien abduction support group thrown into chaos by the suggestion that someone in their midst may not be as human as they seem.

Why: See the ladies behind Morro & Jasp perform without their clown personas (something I personally am very interested in) and check out the latest from Kat Sandler who recently won the Dora for her new production of Mustard at Tarragon.

Dan’s Inferno

Where: Helen Gardiner Phelan Playhouse

When:
buy tickets  June 30th at 8:45 PM
buy tickets  July 1st at 11:00 PM
buy tickets  July 3rd at 1:00 PM
buy tickets  July 5th at 2:30 PM
buy tickets  July 7th at 9:30 PM
buy tickets  July 9th at 9:45 PM
buy tickets  July 10th at 5:15 PM

What: Based loosely on Dante’s famous poems, we seek explore the modern interpretation of what comes after death. Dan lived his life unremarkably and now he is dead. Don’t feel bad for him, dear reader. In death, Dan finds himself free to visit heaven and hell, purgatory too. He will find more meaning in his afterlife than he ever found in his beforelife.

Why: You may have seen a version of The Inferno before, but I’m sure you haven’t seen one like this. I know what was on their costume list, and it sounds like one hell of a show. Plus, Eric Miinch (recently seen as Roat in Bygone’s Wait Until Dark) is one of the funniest people I know; if you have a chance to see something of his, don’t miss it.

Everything Else Is Sold Out

Where: Helen Gardiner Phelan Playhouse

When:
buy tickets  June 30th at 10:30 PM
buy tickets  July 2nd at 7:30 PM
buy tickets  July 3rd at 4:30 PM
buy tickets  July 5th at 6:00 PM
buy tickets  July 6th at 11:00 PM
buy tickets  July 8th at 12:00 PM
buy tickets  July 10th at 3:30 PM

What: Bad News! All those hot ticket shows are sold out (don’t bother checking, they definitely are). Good News! Dame Judy Dench is back with an all new sketch revue! Covering everything from situations to other situations, it’s a show you’ve gotta see, especially since Everything Else Is Sold Out!
Past Reviews “Outstanding Ensemble and Production”, NNNNN, NOW Magazine

Why: While she didn’t get to show off her comedy-chops in Wait Until Dark, Shannon Lahaie is an extremely funny lady, and the range she showed in WUD proves her to be a talented actress as well. Dame Judy Dench has gotten great buzz for their past sketch shows and I’m sure this will be no different, definitely one I can’t wait to see.

Mullet’s Ghost Story

Where: Harbord House, 150 Harbord Street (Site Specific)

When:
buy tickets  June 29th at 9:30 PM
buy tickets  June 30th at 9:30 PM
buy tickets  July 1st at 9:30 PM
buy tickets  July 2nd at 9:30 PM
buy tickets  July 3rd at 9:30 PM
buy tickets  July 4th at 9:30 PM
buy tickets  July 5th at 9:30 PM
buy tickets  July 6th at 9:30 PM
buy tickets  July 7th at 9:30 PM
buy tickets  July 8th at 9:30 PM
buy tickets  July 9th at 9:30 PM
buy tickets  July 10th at 9:30 PM

What: A haunting tale about the dead, as told by the undead, for you, the living. Zombie clown Mullet wants nothing more than to never be alone. Be careful what you wish for. Starring Toronto’s Best Male Improviser (2015 NOW Magazine Reader’s Choice). Directed by 2x Canadian Comedy Award winner. Written by 3x Canadian National Playwriting Competition winner.

Why: Mullet was recently seen in Bygone’s Vaudeville Revue where he performed one of the most unique bits in the show. A clever writer and performer, I can’t wait to see what one of his full-length shows is like.

Check out the Fringe website for complete show listings.