I expected Gavin Crawford and Kyle Tingley’s play Gavin Crawford: “Friend” “Like” #Me, playing as part of the Toronto Fringe Festival, to be hilarious (it is) and I expected to thoroughly enjoy it (I did), but I wasn’t adequately prepared for how profound the lasting message of the show, about how the Internet has fundamentally and irrevocably changed our lives, truly is.
Crawford begins with a one man impression of YouTube and segues nicely into a dramatic enactment of scrolling through an average Facebook newsfeed, highlighting how Crawford uses social media as a willful (yet detrimental) distraction from his task at hand (writing a play). It’s clear that, like most of us, Gavin Crawford is addicted to social media. Coming to this realization, and with the deadline for his play looming, Crawford decides, as many do, that he will take a break from Facebook, and he gives a brilliant, public, farewell, and banishes himself from one of his only means of connecting to a large portion of his “friends” for the benefit of his art.
He decides that he must be more Mindful (as explained by a hilarious Arianna Huffington) and heads to the park where birds are tweeting (literally and figuratively) and that is where disaster of all disasters occur and his cellphone becomes the casualty of an accident. Cut off from all social networks, Crawford begins to get antsy. Is this an opportunity for Crawford to “engage” with people in a more “genuine” way or is it actually a social death sentence for a shy person who finds it easier to meet people online first? Does it allow for more opportunities to connect with people, or does it simply strip someone of the ability to avoid talking to someone they find annoying, pretentious, awkward or intimidating? This musing culminates in a beautiful story about porn that Crawford tells to a straight man he meets at a sport’s bar, that so beautifully articulates how the Internet has changed our world for the better, and that I think everyone would benefit from hearing.
Crawford’s writing is sharp and witty, the immediacy of his popular culture references is on fleek, (but there is also an epic “Chasing Cars/Grey’s Anatomy reference that never gets old) and Crawford is so charming, smart and hilarious that I’m sure the entire audience left the theatre wanting a “friend” just “like” #him.
TWISI FRINGE RATING:
“Friend” “Like” #Me plays at the Annex Theatre (736 Bathurst Street) at the following times: