It’s getting harder to separate the wheat from the chaff at the Toronto Fringe Festival. Should you see the burlesque show or the bingo game? The one about killing Kevin Spacey or the one about violating our current prime minister? There is no shortage of zany and provocative options.
In its 21st season, with 150 productions involving more than 1,200 artists on stage and behind the scenes, the festival is literally bulging at the seams this year with new venues, featuring quirky musicals, one-actor shows, oddball comedies and serious drama from as far away as Kuwait.
Fringe regulars know the secret to finding the hottest shows: Shameless eavesdropping on other patrons as the festival progresses. And with tickets maxing out at a recession-friendly $10, picking the wrong show is mostly paid for in time wasted.
While it may seem like trying to pin the tail on the donkey, here are some suggestions for the 11 festival days ahead:
The Good Thief, by flaming locomotive from Perth, Australia. A dark tale of tragedy and murder. At the Glen Morris Theatre.
Circus, presented by Cabbage Under Heavy Fire from Vancouver. Exposing “the dark side of carnies.” At the Factory Studio Theatre.
Killing Kevin Spacey, from Wolf Productions of Fort Lauderdale, Fla. A comedy that won Best of Fest last year in Edmonton and Winnipeg. At Royal St. George’s Auditorium.
Cocktails, presented by the Dancing Cock Brothers from Montreal. Filthy sketch comedy for mature audiences. At the Tarragon Theatre Mainspace.
Charles Manson & Timothy Leary at Folsom Prison, presented by Ottawa’s Attention Theatre. Based on a true story. At Tarragon Theatre Mainspace.
The Importance of Being Earnest, presented by Manchester Central Theatre Company, Manchester, England. The Wilde classic with a twist (of course): An all-female cast. At Factory Theatre Mainspace.
Red Bastard, presented by Red Bastard, New York, N.Y. A one-person interactive show and comic master class. At St. Vladimir's Theatre.
Because I Can, presented by Mad Frau Productions of Toronto. A farce featuring mistaken identities and used syringes. At the Robert Gill Theatre.
Hipcheck: The Musical, presented by Torrent Productions of Toronto. Travails of an all-women’s hockey team named the Banshees. At the Robert Gill Theatre.
Love and Human Extinction, presented by Wide Out Loud Productions of Toronto. A tragicomedy about two men fighting for the love of the last woman on Earth. At Royal St. George’s Auditorium.
I Am Not Neil Young: The Musical, presented by Don Lamoreux Productions. A Canadian work that has won acclaim at other fringes. At Holy Joe’s
Wanderlust, presented by Martin Dockery, New York, N.Y. A one-actor show about a temp wandering the world in search of an epiphany. At Glen Morris Theatre.
Lockdown, presented by Leda Serene Films, Toronto. A drama about a group of young people held hostage in a high school, featuring an ensemble of young actors. At George Ignatieff Theatre.
TransCanada ’69, presented by Attunement Productions of Victoria, B.C. Featuring the summer of ’69 and the music of Joni Mitchell, Gordon Lightfoot, Leonard Cohen, Oscar Peterson and others. At Royal St. George’s Auditorium.
The Accident, presented by Jonno Katz, Melbourne, Australia. Winner of best solo performance at the Ottawa Fringe, a one-man show about two very different brothers. At George Ignatieff Theatre.
The Sleuth Sisters, presented by Harmony Theatre, Minneapolis, Minn. A 1950s radio play mystery with live music and sound effects, for kids by kids. At Palmerston Library Theatre.