The Toronto Fringe Theatre Festival!

For those of you who may not know, a Fringe Festival is an “indie theatre festival…about celebrating under-represented voices and those on the margins of the performing arts world. It’s a festival where anyone can put on any show, without having to pass through a jury – where theatre students can mount their first production outside of school, where emerging artists can get their big break, and where established artists can test out new work.



It’s a festival where audiences come for the adventure and the community as much as for the plays themselves.”

You do not have to know a lot about theatre or have a lot of money to spend on tickets in order to go to a Fringe show. That’s the beauty of it – Fringe festivals are accessible to everyone. Tickets for the Toronto Fringe range from $8 to $12 apiece, and you can literally wander up to a venue 10 minutes before a show and see something great and unexpected.

I have been involved with Fringe for many years as a volunteer and audience member, but this year I had my first opportunity to review Fringe shows and have them published on a popular Toronto theatre website – Mooney on Theatre! I was so excited! I imagined schmoozing with the stars, press tents with tons of free booze and platters towering with artfully arranged fruit and desserts, and possibly being bribed with suitcases full of money (or maybe just Canadian Tire money, since it’s a Fringe festival).



That was what I imagined, not what I expected. What I actually expected (and experienced) was a lot more humble – rushing from one venue to another in order not to miss my assigned shows, late nights at home banging out reviews on my computer, and editors asking me to “please change one more thing” at 3am.

Despite those realities, I thoroughly enjoyed my experience as a member of the press (which I have been told is now called “media” – I think I have watched this movie one too many times) – and I really hope I will get the chance to do it again in the near future!

On to my reviews!

I reviewed five shows with Mooney on Theatre this year. Here are my top three:


My personal number one favourite this year is for the record.

Poster for For the Record

This show, by company the night kitchen, was was a one-of-a-kind immersive theatre experience that I will be thinking about for a long time. Interestingly, it did not take place in a theatre at all, but in Kops Records on Bloor Street. The store is roomy, yet the setup makes it feel intimate – a perfect setting for a live performance. This expertly-written story about the relationship between a mother and daughter is told with tons of humour lots of heart. And, of course, music plays a huge role in the story – as it does in our memories. Read my full review here (just click on the word “here”).


My runner-up is Adam Bailey is On Fire by company Still Your Friend.

Adam Bailey is On Fire poster

Performer and writer Adam Bailey is the gay son of an evangelical Christian minister. How to navigate these seemingly disparate realities? This coming-of-age story for the modern world is both uproarious and heartwarming. It also features some very clever and hilarious audience participation bits. I don’t want to give too much away, but if you’ve ever wanted the chance to drink out of a truly communal communion cup…well, maybe you haven’t. But trust me – this is a show that is impossible to forget. My full review can be found here.


And, my third place winner goes to… Best Picture.

Photo of Jon Paterson and Kurt Fitzpatrick

This show, by company RibbitRePublic, manages to explain all 88 Best Picture winners at the Academy Awards (the “Oscars”) in a mere 60 minutes….with a cast of only three people. The actors cleverly distill the movies using famous lines, summing up of plots, and re-enactments of famous scenes. The entire show is hilarious and perfect for any film lover (or self-proclaimed know-it-all) like me. Read my full review here.


If you want to read my other reviews, or to view them all at once, click here:


These shows are ALL STILL PLAYING at the Toronto Fringe until July 10th! But if you can’t come this time around, I would encourage everyone to “Fringe” sometime soon! Besides Toronto, there are Fringe festivals in many cities across Ontario (Hamilton, London, Guelph, Windsor, and Ottawa), across Canada (Vancouver, Calgary, Winnipeg, Montreal, Halifax, and many more) and across the world (the Edinburgh Fringe being the biggest and most famous).

As I said before, you do not have to be a seasoned theatregoer or be carrying around briefcases full of money in order to attend a Fringe show. That’s the beauty of it – Fringe is accessible to everyone. The only requirement is to expect the unexpected!

See you there!


Stay tuned!


The Toronto Fringe Festival

The Canadian Association of Fringe Festivals

The 2016 Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Photo of Fringe banner courtesy of the Toronto Fringe Festival.

Press tent photo:

for the record photo provided by the company (the night kitchen)

Photo of Adam Bailey by Hugh Problyn

Best Picture photo by Richard Gilmore




Straight White Men! The Play.

Last night, I saw a play at the Harbourfront Centre’s Fleck Dance Theatre called “Straight White Men.”

Straight White Men

The premise is simple: three brothers and their father meet up at home for Christmas.

The three brothers and their father have chosen different paths in life and different ways of thinking about its challenges and rewards. A complication arises when one of the brothers has an emotional outburst (i.e. crying, which seems to be the only truly unacceptable form of emotional outburst among this social group).

The play’s focus is the issue of straight white male gender identity. What does this identity mean? What behaviours are acceptable and not acceptable within it? What privileges does it hold?

In a question and answer session after the play, playwright Young Jean Lee pointed out that, as an Asian female, she had to do a lot of research as she is neither a male nor white and had not witnessed how straight white men act when women are not around (because to observe them, she would have to be in the room).

This play could have very easily ended up being inaccurate, preachy, heavy-handed, and/or static.

Instead, it was full of humour and contained a good amount of movement (cue play fights, roughhousing, and some hilariously terrible dancing on the part of the brothers). It was also fair to the straight white men in it – it allowed them to have a healthy amount of self-reflection and social awareness. They were cognizant of their privilege and the …how do I put this…? … misguided ranging to the abhorrent actions of past and present straight white men. One particularly funny snippet was about how one of the brother’s volunteer work in Africa amounted to “teaching them things I didn’t know how to do and they didn’t have much interest in learning either.”

It is my opinion that this play is essential viewing for straight white men and non-straight, non-white, non-male persons, and everyone in between.

As a social commentary and examination of gender identity, it breezes along in 85 minutes and leaves you wanting more….but leaves you thinking and questioning afterwards.

Straight White Men plays tonight (Friday, June 5th) and tomorrow night (Saturday, June 6th) as part of the Harbourfront Centre’s Worldstage series. Showtime is 8pm.

P.S. Anyone who has seen the movie Office Space – the hilarious 1990s movie about office workplace culture – will recognize the guy who played Tom Smykowski – the guy who invented the “Jumping to Conclusions Mat” – playing the father in the play!

P.S.S. The playwright also mentioned that the pre-show music (which is bass-heavy rap/hip-hop with female vocalists, and is in stark contrast to the play itself), offended some of the audience so much when the show played in New York City that they demanded refunds and cancelled their subscriptions! How’s THAT for entitlement and privilege?!

For more info about the play, visit:

Photo credit:

Stay tuned!