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Toronto’s Fringe theatre festival turns 30 this year (that’s right, Fringe is a millennial), kicking off nearly two weeks of plays and performances in venues across the city — from the Painted Lady on Ossington in the city’s west end to Paintbox Bistro on Toronto’s east side. With over 150 grassroots events taking to the stage, it’s hard to know what to see, although at $13 a ticket, Fringe is a low risk gamble, guaranteeing a unique experience for very little cash. As the Festival gets going, certain productions are picking up serious media attention (don’t forget: Ins Choi’s play-turned-hit-TV-show Kim’s Convenience premiered at Fringe). Could one of these buzzy new plays be the next big thing? Grab your ticket ASAP and say you saw them first.
If you’ve ever been to a clothing swap, you know exactly how vicious those kinds of gatherings can be. Just kidding. They’re actually really lovely ways to recycle the things you never wear anymore. Just like at a typical clothing swap, Clotheswap the play encourages audience members to bring items to be used first in the performance and then be donated to two Toronto charities. Make no mistake though, this play — written by the women behind Fringe’s Release The Stars: The Ballad Of Randy And Evi Quaid—will bring the laughs. Bonus: it’s performed at the city’s Textile Museum, a seriously cool space.
This site-specific play won’t make you choose between spending the evening at the theatre or by the pool… because it takes place in one. The drama centres on a pool party celebrating the 18th birthday of one of the main characters. And since this is about teenagers, you know that even the drama has its own drama. At the heart of the production is the question, ‘Where is the line between kids being kids and kids being cruel?’ BYO teen angst.
When he was just 14, Mateo Lewis, writer and star of this one-act play, penned a concept album about Toronto’s former mayor, Rob Ford. (Yeah, we’re feeling a little insecure about what we accomplished in eighth grade right now, too.) This July, he treats Fringe audiences to a production that takes on topics like gender, social justice, and toxic masculinity. “I believe the vast majority of our world’s challenges today can be attributed to insecure men feeling entitled to do whatever they desire to cover their insecurities,” says Lewis. Did we mention that it’s a musical?
Fringe veteran Michael Ross Albert (Anywhere, The Grass is Always Greenest at the Houston Astrodome) is back this year with yet another pitch-dark office comedy. Also known as: something we can all identify with. Mondays, right? The action takes place at a recently burglarized tech company where a conference call that’s meant to be all business suddenly turns personal. Lives are ruined. It should be hilarious.
Comedian and podcast host Jess Beaulieu wrote and stars in this hour-long play alongside co-creator Luis Fernandes. In it, the two tackle the imbalance between heterosexual partners when it comes to who does more of the emotional, relationship-related heavy-lifting (hint: it’s the woman). Consider the statistics: if you’re a man who is married, you’ll live longer. If you’re a woman who is single and childless, you’ll live longer. This is funny because: irony. Also because of Beaulieu and Fernandes’ smart, biting take on the topic.