Brieviews: Fringe Edition Part 2

I was finally able to check out a few more Fringe shows after a lovely improv class down at the Second City Training Centre.  I made my way over UofT’s campus for a switch from solo performances to an evening of ensemble casts.

Fringe Show # 3 ->  I will never listen to Annie Lennox the same way ever again.

A friend of mine highly recommended Tony Ho’s Sad People – and I was happy to find out it fit into my schedule last night because I never got around to seeing these guys during the last year’s TOsketchfest.  Finally, my time had come to be weirded out by their talent.   I chugged a beer at a nearby O’Grady’s Pub and proceeded to climb the many stairs up to the Robert Gill theatre for, I’m not afraid to say it, one of the weirdest and most wonderful performances I’ve ever seen.  They’re really nothing like other sketch comedy troupes in the city.  Though bizarre and hilarious, there’s a powerful humanity behind a lot of their sketches and monologues – as depressing as that may sound, particularly in the case of the guy who wanted to put his 51 year-old mother in a home.  I was impressed at the strong, very real emotions the characters could portray, for a comedy show, especially in the nurse/patient scene – even though one of the characters’ face was covered with gauze throughout the entire sketch.  (I’m thinking just the shy side-to-side movement on his wheelchair spoke volumes!)  My favourite sketch of the show had to be the time traveling one.

So many good ideas!  Such great performances.  And cool guest performances.  If you’re into sketch comedy, you should check out Tony Ho for sure.  Here’s what they’ve got left, Fringe-wise:

  • July 13 11:30 PM
  • July 14 01:45 PM

Two days left!  Check ’em out!

Fringe Show #4 ->  Not the War of 1812 I learned about in high school!

I ran over from UofT to Spadina (not a very far run) to catch the National Theatre of the World’s performance of “The Soaps” A Live Improvised Soap Opera.  Another one of their formats I’d never seen before, but equally as hilariously entertaining as the Carnegie Hall Show and the Script Tease Project.  This edition of the Soaps had a background of the War of 1812, which had a certain fun significance for me because I used to give tours in a Niagara-on-the-Lake historic home that was used as a field hospital during the War of 1812.  If you live in Southern Ontario, particularly near or on the Niagara River, you’re gonna year a lot of stuff about 1812, at school and otherwise.  This year happens to be the bicentennial of the war.  (I really think they should take this production down to the Niagara Region – there’s huge 1812 hooplah going on down there this summer – I bet tourists would go CRAZY over it!)  But I digress.  The cast, composed of some heavy-hitting Second City alum, played British, American and First Nations characters as their stories entwined over issues of romance, betrayal, drama… and corn!  Every night is a new story with the Soaps, so I URGE you to see this one because if you like good improv, and I mean really great, nothing beats it kindof improv,  you will lose your SHIT over this one.  Only three days remaining at St. Vlad’s!

  • July 12 09:15 PM
  • July 13 12:30 PM
  • July 15 02:45 PM

(I can say lose your shit in a review right?  Whatever.  It’s my blog.  I’ll write what I want.)

Finally… A Different Kind of Review –

I’d like to post a review of the car break-in I experienced last night.  Nothing on the car was broken or destroyed, which is a plus.  Well done, jerkoffs.  (Which leads me to believe I may have left my doors unlocked, but that’s not likely.  It’s like, automatic behaviour for me to lock my car after paying for parking.)  I DID, however, leave the windows open SLIGHTLY so the car wouldn’t be stifling when I got back from my Fringe-hopping.  That must have been it.  When I got back to my car, all my CDs had been taken, as had my change in the ashtray.  I worry some of the former car-owner’s old mail was taken, but go figure, they didn’t take the shitty $15 fan I bought at Canadian Tire as a substitute for my broken car air conditioner.  Luckily, I’d just emptied my car earlier that day of some a pretty nice North Face jacket, and some other clothes.  Also, it was fortunate these creeps didn’t know how to open my trunk, because they might have liked some of the stuff they found back there.  (Like that dead body!!! Moohooohahahahahahahaha)  All in all, I give this crime a rating of: “Fuck you, you delinquent fucks.”

Funny, I never had my car broken into when I lived in Ottawa!  (Then again, I didn’t own a car in Ottawa.)

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You’re Never Trapped in a Cave

…or a mud hut, for that matter.  This was certainly well proven tonight in the National Theatre of the World‘s May 30th edition ofThe Script Tease Project, which I thought was brilliant!  Now, I’m pretty stupid, because I’ve only seen NTOW twice since moving to Toronto (if you don’t count the multiple times I’ve seen them on various TV commercials & in a bunch of the photos lining the walls at The Second City.)  I saw them do Carnegie Hallin the first few months after I’d started at Humber and it completely changed my understanding of what improv could be.  They are the outstandingly talented improvisers and ever since I first saw them, I have had the strongest desire to learn to emulate their skill and technique.

I also saw Naomi Snieckus and Matt Baram perform together in November’s Toronto Sketch Comedy Festival – which, if you’d like to take a step back in time, you can read about HERE.

BUT ON TO THE MATTER AT HAND!  It was my first time seeing them perform @The_NTOW’s #ScriptTease format.  If you haven’t heard anything about it, well… who better to explain it than the cast itself:

The Script Tease Project ’12 – YouTube

Tonight, the playwright responsible for penning the first few pages was Anusree Roy, award-winning playwright and performer.  And, well, since Glenn Sumi moderated the Talk Back after #ScriptTease tonight, I’m just going to direct you to his feature in NOW all about Anusree so you can find out more:

OK – so you know how the show works and you who the playwright is – good?  Good.

Anusree Roy’s play:  Starving

The play was set in a mud hut in Calcutta. Naomi is Babui, wife of Gokul (Matt), but she is pregnant with the child of Gokul’s brother, Komol (Ron.)  To feed his starving wife, child and himself, Komol has killed a cow and it is lying outside in the village square.  But they are Hindu and cows are sacred.  The stakes are high and…

You know what, if you want the play-by-play of the play, you really should read what the live Tweeters were getting up to during the show ->  Here check out the feed, it’s hilarious: @The_NTOW

What I will do is tell you about how amazing an experience to watch these guys and lady live.  The moment the scripts are put down and the lights come back up, you’re truly taken into their universe.  Even though there’s not but a rug, a stool and a tiny bag on stage, you’re right there in that hut – and those seemingly meaningless objects become the funniest rug, stool and bag you’ve ever seen in your life.  They seamlessly flow in and out from dramatic and deeply emotional moments into the silliest nonsense:

  • “Please! Let me have a fun fun barbeque!”    (This is Calcutta, remember – after two years of drought!)
  • “There is no fish curry.  Eat the rug.”

No!  There are too many of these…  Just read the Twitter feed!!!! DO IT!!! Read it!!!  Or better yet, go see one of their shows.   This run goes until June 3rd, so you still have plenty of time.

THEN you’ll see how amazing they are at character work – I imagine South Asian accents are probably pretty tough to pull off – but then again, I’m still new to Toronto.

THEN you’ll see what good chemistry looks like.

THEN you’ll see what truly great improv is.

“It’s Jazz.”

Seriously.  Go see this show.  Call 416-504-7529 for tickets, or get them by e-mail at info [at] passemuraille.on.ca.  (Comedy nerds might be happy to know that Scott Thompson’s Script Tease play will be performed on Saturday, June 2nd @ 8pm.)