fruit fruit mouth mouth

molly_thomas_l_alexi_pedneault_c_and_philip_turkiewicz_r_photo_by_shauna_sloanFruit Fruit Mouth Mouth, which plays at the Factory Theatre Mainspace as part of the Toronto Fringe Festival, is a physical theatre adaptation of Christina Rossetti’s poem “Goblin Market” (1862), with a redundant academic twist.

Rossetti’s poem tells the story of two young, very close sisters, Laura and Lizzie, and how one sister, Laura, becomes seduced to trade a lock of hair for the goblins’ forbidden fruit (which she eats in a “Bacchic frenzy,” and then becomes cursed when she is no longer able to access the goblin’s market and withers up and nearly dies. Lizzie decides to go and pay with a silver coin, not trading her hair, and take the fruit “to go” instead of enjoying all its pleasures in the presence of the goblins, and so they proceed to assault her, and she becomes covered in the fruit’s juices. Once she returns home her sister licks and sucks and kisses all this juice from her sister’s skin and is restored to herself again.

The Illume Collective bring the story to life in a captivating and interesting way. The goblins, who serve as the story’s narrators, have strange voices, which are difficult to decipher at times, but overall the cast use their bodies in evocative ways to really bring this poem, in all its complexity, to life.

The problem here is that the Illume Collective bring this poem, in all its complexity, to life, and then they try to un-complicate it, for the benefit of showing the audience that it can be interpreted in many different ways- that the goblins can be played as “girls” (at a slumber party, obviously), the sisters can be played as brothers (who enjoy being sexualized and seduced by the female goblins, obviously), the assault on Lizzie can be obviously called a rape, the sucking of Lizzie’s juice-covered flesh by Laura can be obviously portrayed as sexual. It’s a didactic attempt to explain to the audience what is already inherent in the first piece, and in much less interesting ways.

The Illume Collective doesn’t trust that its audience is insightful enough to appreciate the nuance and complexity of Rossetti’s poem on its own and in the process becomes the theatrical equivalent of Cole’s Notes, which is about as exciting as it sounds.

TWISI FRINGE RATING: 

5_Star_Rating_System_3_stars

fruit fruit mouth mouth plays at the Factory Theatre Mainspace (125 Bathurst Street) as part of the Toronto Fringe Festival at the following times:

show times
July 09 at 07:30 PM  buy tickets
July 11 at 09:45 PM  buy tickets

Graham Clark Reads the Phone Book

Graham-Clark-Reads-the-Phonebook-e1414680352647-250x222

graham clark

Graham Clark Reads the Phone Book, which plays until July 12th as part of the Toronto Fringe Festival, proves that Clark can take something that not only has been the definition of boring for decades, but is also almost entirely antiquated, and use it as the muse to create a genuinely funny and strange piece of theatre.   

It cost Graham Clark five bucks at a pizza place to acquire his Vancouver phone book. He begins by explaining to us how this show came about, and reading and then taking us through the pages, riffing on whatever he comes across, from 911 to knife machines. There are some stories that are obviously well researched, in attempt to dazzle us with his knowledge of telephone book anecdotes, but most is more casual, as the audience is given the chance to choose a letter of the alphabet and Clark goes through that section, finding jokes as the entries catch his eye.

This is, of course, all a testament to Clark as a captivating, silly and inventive performer. The phone book has never been so much fun!

 TWISI FRINGE RATING:

5_Star_Rating_System_4_and_a_half_stars

Graham Clark Reads the Phone Book plays at the Factory Theatre Studio (125 Bathurst Street) as part of the Toronto Fringe Festival at the following times:

show times
July 11 at 07:30 PM  buy tickets
July 12 at 07:30 PM  buy tickets

Georama

georama_program_graphic_-_mandi_maxwell_and_kevin_p._gabelEmpty Sea Company brings Nova Scotia-based playwright Jackie Torrens’ 2002 play Georama to the Toronto Fringe Festival, where it plays until July 11, 2015.

Georama is a poignant exploration of privilege and how, often, those who have it will do everything in their power to hold on to it, even after it is revealed that it less something they are entitled to have, but rather something arbitrary that has been thrust, randomly, upon them by an undiscerning universe. Torrens offers us two best friends, Hal Smyth and Sal Smith, who were born, identical healthy babies full of promise, at the same hospital on the same day at nearly the exact same moment. They were even delivered by the same doctor. Yet one went on to live a life as a white, affluent male and the other as a white, less affluent female. They grew up as best friends, but as adults, the disparity between the way they perceive the world, coloured, of course, by their experiences in it, is vast. Then, suddenly, when an old secret is revealed, Hal and Sal’s friendship, and their self-constructed understanding of the world and their place in it, is blown to smithereens. It is up to us, the audience, to seek to grapple with a solution.

The exploration of gender politics and classism comes alive in this production, directed by Arne MacPherson and featuring Kevin P. Gabel and Mandi Maxwell. The biggest challenge is that MacPherson and Maxwell haven’t created Hal and Sal to be three dimensional characters grounded in realism, nor do we get a real sense of their friendship and the care, history and love they share with one another, which makes it difficult for the audience to care about helping these two find their way back together.

Torrens’ plot in Georama, upon which she has built a compelling and insightful political argument, hinges on an unlikely coincidence, which means that Hal and Sal have to be able to convince the audience that they are not just archetypes to be dismissed, but people who live within the same social constructs as all of us, trying to better understand agency and responsibility and privilege.

TWISI FRINGE RATING:

5_Star_Rating_System_3_and_a_half_stars-1

Georama plays at the Factory Theatre Studio (125 Bathurst Street) as part of the Toronto Fringe Festival at the following times:

show times
July 09 at 05:15 PM  buy tickets
July 10 at 07:30 PM  buy tickets
July 11 at 11:00 PM  buy tickets

Becoming Burlesque

becoming_burlesque_photo_by_chris_hutcheson_from_l2r_liana_lewis_jackie_english_amber_mackereth_julie_mclachlan_kage_wolf_madi_kin_ansi_drive_knox_harter_pastel_supernovaJackie English’s Becoming Burlesque, which plays as part of the Toronto Fringe Festival, starts off great with a well-choreographed dance number that sees a company of Burlesque performers performing their striptease. Yet, everything careens downward during the awkward play within a play construct, which sees a young girl arrive at the stage door to return something one of the dancers forgot, and she ends up getting forced, against her will, into the show. There are numerous times when this girl tells the burlesque dancers a very clear “No,” and yet she is stripped and groped anyway, and, to, me that is about the least sexiest thing that could happen in a Burlesque show.

The girls are trying so hard to be sexy here, talking dirty to one another and acting like they’re auditioning for a porn orgy, and it’s not necessary. In fact, the scenes in between the dances actually undermine the joyful, empowering, body-positive experience that is Burlesque. Instead Becoming Burlesque left me bored and hyper-aware that I was not the right demographic for this show, which is too bad, because I usually find Burlesque so fun.

TWISI FRINGE RATING:

5_Star_Rating_System_3_stars

Becoming Burlesque plays at the Al Green Theatre (750 Spadina Avenue) as part of the Toronto Fringe Festival at the following times:

show times
July 11 at 09:45 PM  buy tickets
July 12 at 04:00 PM  buy tickets

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