Toronto Fringe 2017 Day #6

James & Jamesy In The Dark. Photo by Thaddeus Hink

It was Toronto Fringe Day 10, and my final day of fringing. I did a ton of not only walking but standing and my body hates me today for good reason.

The first two shows are Patron's Pick so you can still catch them. Click the title to get the link. The last one has closed but is going on to Winnipeg so I'm linking to that fringe (the website doesn't give me a direct link to the show). Pass along to your Winnipeg friends!

James & Jamesy in the Dark

I'm a huge fan of these guys and I thought I wouldn't get a chance to see this. If you've seen either of their previous shows, Tea for 2 or High Tea, be warned that this is a little different. Which is great because I love seeing artists stretch their wings and move out of their comfort zone.

The show revolves around two characters who have working lampshades on their heads and are thus restricted in what they see. There's a lot of comedy in it, engaging enough to capture the attention of the pre-teens in the audience. The first half, establishing the world, does feel slow. But just as you get to "is that all there is?', they discover the audience and what happens from there is pure delight.

If you like something that's off-beat, or something that is physical comedy-based in an intelligent way, then check this show out.

Magical Mystery Detour

My reaction to this show is an example of me being jaded in having seen too many fringe shows. (I've never counted but I know it falls in the hundreds.) I've heard about this artist for years as she's made the rounds of the fringe circuit but had never seen her. I walked out disappointed. I just couldn't help but make comparisons to Nicola Gunn's fringe shows which worked with similar themes and found it wanting.

Now that I've got that out of the way, let me tell you why everyone else raves about this show. :)

We meet a woman who is dealing with a lot of stuff - trying to write a tag line for Marmite, a break up, and her mother's death. When she gets a letter from beyond the grave, it sets her on an unforgettable road trip. Gemma Wilcox not only gives us all the people she meets along the way, but voices animals, coins, and my personal favourite, a car. You won't find any stereotypes in the characters, which given how quick a glance we get of most of them, could have been very easy to do. The show has a great mix of drama and comedy - it's a very enjoyable journey.

My friend who saw the show with me felt the audience interaction portions of the show unnecessary. After thinking on it, I tend to agree. It pulls us out of the narrative. However, that's the only problem I found with it.

It truly is a tour-de-force and an interesting story. If you love watching those things, this show is for you.

The Life Henri

The show that has already closed (although I won't be surprised if there's a Toronto remount at some point). It was the perfect way to end my fringe.

Ostensibly the show is about the life of Henri Rousseau but Adam Bailey uses it as a jumping off point to talk about being an outsider in other contexts. After the show I found out there's another layer I didn't even see which talked about the fringe circuit itself. I really wish I could go back and see it again with this knowledge. Maybe Winnipeg audiences will be more astute than I.

Doesn't really matter, I enjoyed it immensely. Adam is an engaging and funny storyteller and the life of Rousseau is a fascinating subject in its own right. Using slides to show us the work of Rousseau and his contemporaries, we get a rollicking tour of the Parisian art world of the late 19th and early 20th century. The time flies by as we hear about Rousseau artistic development, his naivety, and the most epic house party ever.

Want to have fun spending an hour hearing a story about an ordinary man who becomes an icon? You'll want to see this.