Toronto Fringe Festival Review: 32 Short Sketches About Bees

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Clear Glass Productions’s performance of 32 Short Sketches About Bees is a fast-paced mash-up of ridiculous scenes all tied together through the incredibly simple (but surprisingly diverse) theme of “bees” (or “Bea”, “B”, “be”… you get the idea). Playing now at the Toronto Fringe Festival. Check out another one of my 2017 Toronto Fringe Festival reviews via Mooney on Theatre.

REVIEW: Everything Else Is Sold Out

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I was thrilled to see such a full house at a late performance of last night’s Everything Else Is Sold Out, a Dame Judy Dench sketch show currently running as a part of the 2016 Toronto Fringe. The show is flawlessly directed by Paul Bates (Canadian Comedy Awards, Best Male Improvisor – NOW Magazine, 2013, director – Second City’s Click Bait & Switch,  actor – Dan for Mayor, Puppets Who Kill, The Ron James Show) and features the talents of Claire Farmer (Second City, Bad Dog), Jessica Greco (The Animal Project, TIFF 2013, Rookie Blue, Bomb Girls) Shannon Lahaie (Wait Until Dark – Bygone Theatre, Insane – best actress nomination, FilmQuest 2014), Chris Leveille (Second City, Bad Dog), and Gavin Pounds (Barrie North Improv Team).

What really makes Everything Else stand out is how seamlessly the sketches flow from one to another; dynamic transitions keep the energy up and give a place to mini sight gags and jokes that lesser companies would try to drag out into a whole sketch. The technical elements are well executed and everyone’s timing (stage manager included) is perfectly on-point; no one misses a beat. While there isn’t exactly a theme to the show overall, just enough references are made to call back to other scenes and each time this is done it is done so cleverly; lots of laughs, none of the groans you come to expect from most sketch acts.

NOTE: I feel awful that I don’t know the names of most of these people (no pictures in the program), so apologies as I mention some favourite moments without crediting the specific performers;

Some favourite moments include a “Troller’s Support Group” (featuring of course, a literal troll); a new type of app, “Uber Walks”; a rather extravagant hat; a doctor’s visit that reveals a young woman (Lahaie) is suffering from “Montages”; a date that gets side-tracked when the man discovers a room full of jars (I know, sounds odd, but trust me); a guy dancing to bossanova beats who is DEFINITELY not a vampire and the cleverly book-ended scenes that start and finish the show. There are no weak links in this cast. While the scenes I listed were the strongest, I had a grin on my face throughout – this is far better than any sketch show I’ve seen on a Second City stage.

There are only 2 shows left!!! Check out my Fringe Picks Post for show dates & times.

The Verdict: Do not miss it. Go see it now.
Rating: 5/5 Stars

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.