Review: FRINGE FESTIVAL: DAY 3 at Toronto Fringe

Reviews of Bunny!, Maggie Chun's First Love and Last Wedding, and The Family Crow

By: Jul. 10, 2023
Review: FRINGE FESTIVAL: DAY 3 at Toronto Fringe
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BUNNY!

Bunny (Krista Newey) is a self-made internet superstar – or so she wants you to believe. In this send-up of vapid Gen Z YouTube and TikTok “influencers,” writer-performer Newey invites the audience to her character’s self-indulgent and self-congratulatory “talent” show, providing some perfectly-pitched parody social media visuals that just barely go past the medium’s current reality. She makes merciless fun of Bunny with her stunted attempts at singing, dancing, and poetry until the wheels come off with a series of unfortunate phone calls, and a scandal derails her ascent to true fame. The show’s slim 40-minute runtime means that the satire is broad; we never get to dig deeply into it, or to explore who Bunny truly is, but it also means the jokes never overstay their welcome. Newey is a fearless performer, willing to humiliate her character in almost every way before she retreats. A parody of “On My Own” is particularly entertaining, as is her self-pitying ballad with its cutesy stilted grammar. It’s fun to watch her life go off the rails – and then, to wonder why we relish seeing this young delusional woman get put down so harshly, and how far is too far.

MAGGIE CHUN’S FIRST LOVE AND LAST WEDDING

There’s no mystery in MAGGIE CHUN’S FIRST LOVE AND LAST WEDDING; Helen Ho’s sweet romcom about a small-town girl’s realization that she might not really love her small-town fiancé telegraphs its ending in the first few minutes, and the fun is in watching the characters get to the inevitable resolution through quirky dialogue. Because this is a longer show and the audience is likely to know its conclusion more than an hour before the characters, more could be made of the staging and minor characters, particularly the groom’s best man and his magical cowboy hat. A bellhop’s cart is, however, used to entertaining effect. Jobina Sitoh has a grounded, winsome likeability as Maggie, and middle school crush Charlie (Julia Rapai) and current best friend Jules (Katerina Hatzinakos) orbit her as two effective foils. Special props go to set designer Barbara Athanasoulas for creating whimsical items such as a combination photobooth and confessional.

THE FAMILY CROW

THE FAMILY CROW has plenty to crow about, boasting sold-out shows and a previous run at the Red Sandcastle. The one-man, one-puppet show has performer Adam Francis manipulating the imposing looking Horatio P. Corvus, “sorter-outer” of mysteries, who spends most of the show perched atop Proulx’s top hat. It’s Corvus’ job to determine who in the murder (group) of crows that is the Crow family has perpetrated the murder (killing) of said murder’s eldest son. Got it?

Proulx is a focused, energetic and delightful performer, let loose via fluid direction by Byron Laviolette. He tears about the stage while manipulating most of the lighting through five foot-powered IKEA lamps, causing him to appear to suddenly change locations (he gets help with thunder and lightning from the booth, and wind effects through his one piece of minimal but essential audience participation). As the voice of each member of the Crows, he effectively differentiates each one’s personality, and serves up a simple but intriguing mystery of jealousy and…raven-ge. The main fun, though, is in Proulx’s myriad puns; some are predictable, some not, but all feel right and the script is full of them. If you love wordplay and entertaining chaos, I’d say this one’s a surefire…crow-d pleaser.

Photo by Kendra Epik




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