By Melissa Farmer
So let’s get a few things straight. This will be a very personal and biased response to Spent. There will be no money puns, none at all, to be found in the next150 words. If I don’t know you, if you know nothing about “that Lehman guy”, if you hate everything all the time, I still think you should go and see this show. Here’s why:
Spent is relatable and smart. Set within the framework of a BBC news broadcast, we meet not only a pair of Bay street traders who have lost their jobs, but also the media who are reporting on the catalytic economic collapse. As the two downtrodden buffoons leap from a building in an effort to make it all go away, we are right there with them (and, we have been here before) pre-fall, mid-plummet, post-collapse. We giggle at a twitching Richard Fuld, the former CEO of Lehman Brothers who has managed to keep his pockets full; we giddily abhor the greedy devils and their maniacal gluttonous Hell and we recognize that guy we’ve all seen on the news who just wants to know how he’s going to afford his next burger. In its swift seventy minutes, we meet a bunch of absurd characters (all skilfully played by Ravi Jain and Adam Paolozza) who offer different ways in to the bigger question: to a collective who can put a price on everything, how much is an individual worth? It’s inventive, energetic, clever, fun theatre.
My cheeks hurt from smiling for seventy minutes straight. From Jain’s entrance with a “Hire Me” sign and a shaky, hopeful smile, I was sold. As Bay street traders, these two out-of-luck sad sacks are just trying to make tomorrow better than today. As the sundry other characters they play, Ravi and Adam emerge as masters of their craft. Their rapid-fire precision is incredible. On this stage, they are having fun and they are working really really hard. They are sweaty and spitty and you will still want to shake their hand, pat them on the back and give them a spitty, sweaty hug. It’s such a gift to be able to watch someone do something that he’s really really good at doing. It’s something I want to do more often.
Go see Spent. It has a short run, so hurry. Theatre like this is a rare commodity.
SPENT is on now until at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts (50 Tank House Lane). For tickets call:
416-866-8666 or click here.
July 2012 brings us The Fringe Festival once again, and this year we Fringe from July 4-15.
Still unsure of how and what? Read on.
The Fringe Festival is sincerely one of the most fun and unique events in the city. Even if you're still unsure about theatre's role in your life (feel free to contact me STAT to talk about this), the Fringe is a fun, easy, low-commitment way to see theatre and/or experience some art made by enthusiastic participants.
Start by checking out www.fringetoronto.com. Easy to navigate and lots of info.
If you're overwhelmed by the number of shows to see and have no idea which would tickle your fancy, read about them! This takes some time but is well worth it. Until I did my show research, I didn't know that Judith Thompson was doing a show (RARE) with teenagers with Downs Syndrome, or that one of my fav. Chekhov plays would be on (THE BEAR), or that I'd have the chance to relive the hilarity of The Soaps. Now these three are on my must-see list and I feel better about life in general.
If you're up for at least 5 shows (highly do-able since most shows are approx. 60 mins), consider getting a Fringe pass to save you time and money. Click here for a link to buy multi-ticket packs. Very worth it.
If you're looking for a more in=depth Fringe experience - which is both inclusive and a good time, check out the Fringe Club and Artist Alley. Located in the parking lot behind Honest Ed's, the Fringe Club is a casual hang out for Fringe participants, organizers and aficionados. Have a beer, have some food, or just sit down and listen. It's a great inside scoop on the Toronto theatre scene and super people watching.
The theatre community LOVES to welcome non-traditional theatre goers. Attracting new peeps to the theatre is part of our raison d'être so please do not feel intimidated or that you're not part of the gang. The theatre wants you. BADLY. The only danger is a show of too much affection on our part.
The Fringe Festival is an annual breath-of-fresh air for the Toronto theatre scene. There's an atmosphere of anticipation and excitement that surrounds it and those who love it, make spreadsheets for shows, hit the artist alley talks, and the beer tent, daily and are bleary eyed and sleep deprived by the time it's over. Yet they do it all again the next year.
Check it out for the first time or explore it in a different way than before. I don't know anyone who's ever regretted getting more Fringe.
For Theatre Isn't Dead coverage of the Fringe see the FESTIVALS tab in the menu bar at the top of the page.
Surprise! Toronto has TWO Theatre Festivals each summer!
Just when you thought you were in-the-know with Fringe, you have another theatre festival to attend.
WTF? Why are there two? What's the difference?
They're similar; but the main difference, for an audience (I think), is that the Fringe festival line-up of 140+ shows is chosen by a lottery procedure - they literally pick shows out of a hat.
SummerWorks has a jury of chosen theatre practitioners who read through each submission and choose (this year) 35 works to be mounted. SummerWorks is on a much smaller scale than Fringe, and so less people have heard of it, but, generally, the calibre of theatre is better. Although everyone knows that you can see some damn good theatre at the Fringe, and both theatre festivals have their pros and cons.
SummerWorks is on for 10 days each year at the beginning of August. This year it's on from August
4-14 and there are some seriously good shows in the line-up.
Not sure what to see or how to do it?
Visit their website: www.summerworks.ca
You can check out the line-up of shows as well as schedules, find out what's happening with the festival's music series and their Art Bar. Buy a pass so you can save $$! Get one for 3 plays, 7 plays or 10 plays. Click here to get 'em and get more info. The passes are really so handy.
Still in the dark about what to see because all of the shows sound intriguing?
Some sure-fire succeses will be:
THIRD FLOOR at the Lower Ossington Theatre
FREDA & JEM'S BEST OF THE WEEK at the Factory Theatre Studio
LITTLE ONE at Theatre Passe Muraille Mainspace
EXIT, PURSUED BY A BEAR at the Theatre Passe Muraille Mainspace
YOU SHOULD HAVE STAYED HOME at the Theatre Centre
If dance is more your bag, check out the fun show by Company Blonde, MALARIA LULLABY at Theatre Passe Muraille.
Like, Fringe, it's best to get a program or use the SummerWorks website and download it. Find a few shows you want to see and catch them at the beginning of their runs - tickets are always harder to come by at the end of the runs because EVERYONE goes at the end and it's not ideal to wait in line for an hour in the blazing sun to get rush seats.
SummerWorks is dynamite! So much great theatre at cheap prices; what more could you ask for?