The Buzz – Reviews

Fringe Family Fun Show

Comedy Illusions of Greg Wood—Calvary Temple

Family focused and competent comedy magic show. With a permissive picture and bathroom policy, and a focus on participation from children, this could be a good show for anyone with small kids, although the show did run a bit long.

Josh Fidelak

Paco Erhard: Worst. German. Ever.

Paco Erhard—The Cinematheque

Known for his wildly popular standup routine, Paco has woven in storytelling this year. And we loved it! It always helps engage your crowd when you share experiences from your actual existence. Especially in such a heartstrings tugging manner, he found the perfect balance between pathos and humour.

I really identified with his struggle to get close to his homophobic father. He shows that while we are looking for one thing, we may be missing something even more precious that is already there. His Dad’s dementia actually opened his eyes to to the goodness in the man. He actually had tears in both of our eyes, his, and ours.

We find out why he was called ‘the worst German’, although he pointed out one or two more terrible come to mind. I particularly loved his story of the Hungarian donut shop, where he fought for gay rights through pastry. Genius! His political comments were right on the mark, astute but so sad things have come to this. In hindsight, it’s difficult to believe he managed to so cleverly cover so many topics, plus seamlessly intertwine a very moving story, in just an hour.

Afterwards, the large crowd lined up to express their appreciation in a long line after the late night show. Winner winner, spaetzle dinner! Please see this while you can!

Lisa Campbell

The Happy New St. Paddy’s Valentween Thank Hallow Xmas Day Show

Crosseyed Rascals—The Clock Tower – Portage Place

Classic improv performance, centered around pre-established improvisational games selected and staged randomly or according to audience input. With ranging levels of skill and confidence some sketches work better than others, and sadly with the performance time I attended (Tuesday at 11am) the energy from the crowd was low, but for any other time I would have no doubt that enjoyers of improv would have a lot to dig into.

Josh Fidelak

Family Dinner: Part 3!

Family Dinner Comedy—Comedy at Wee Johnny’s

It is very apt that this sketch show takes place at a bar: it’s bar humour.

What do I mean by bar humour?

These are the kinds of jokes that get exponentially funnier that more you drink. Me? I’m on my first glass of wine and most of the gags are 6/10 on the funny scale. The people beside me put away four pints during the performance (and how knows how many before!) and it was a roaring 10/10 on the funny scale for them.

The Dad Chair skit was right on target; although my dad never had a chair, he had a spot and I dared not sit in his spot. My father-in-law had his chair as well. Even though it was unspoken that it was “his,” no one challenged his for the chair. What would have happened if someone did? You’ll find out.

The video-skit was also right on target, but I have a soft spot for picking on the Conservatives. I have the same soft spot for picking on organised religion, so if you’re like me, you’ll enjoy this show. Grab a drink—better yet, grab two, so you don’t have to get up to go to the bar midway through the act. Even better, be like my neighbours, grab four drinks and prepare to laugh like there’s no tomorrow!

Ray Yuen

The Dungeons ‘n’ Dragons Improv Show: Kids Edition

DnD Improv 4 Kidz—Kids Venue

This is the DnD Improv Show, sanitized for kids, cut down in length, and lacking the night after night story progression that ensures the seats are constantly packed. For anyone with kids who’d like to expose them to improv or fantasy role-playing games (both very similar, at the end of the day, one of the reasons why the show concept is so successful), there really couldn’t be a better show.

Josh Fidelak

List of People I’ve Killed (A Love Story)

PMF Productions—Planetarium

Kelm is a fair musician and the folksy tunes range from sombre to top-tapping catchy. Alas, she is not as good an orator as she is a musician and she struggled through a number of transitions. On opening night, okay, but by the sixth show, I expect the delivery to be silk smooth.

As for the show, I don’t buy it. I’m a Data Analyst (Statistician) by profession and I eat numbers for breakfast. I can make numbers dance and sing to tell any story I want them to tell. That’s what happened here. You twist numbers around enough and you can fabricate any link or connection you want. As a scientist, I can tell you with certainty that there’s no causation between Kelm’s actions and the deaths of any famous people, and despite her posits, there’s no correlative proof either. Sorry Kelm, but you did not kill any of those people.

The segment about abortion? For sure. What happened down south is an unmitigated travesty to humankind. Everything you said is spot-on, 100%, but is it appropriate for your show? It just seems to stick out like a PSA in the middle of a Bob Dylan concert. Wait! I just brought up Dylan’s name—I hope I didn’t kill him!

If you’re coming for a relaxing time, listening to some good tunes—excellent. If you’re coming for a compelling story about how Whitney Houston, George Michael or Spock died? Nah.

Ray Yuen

Slowly and Sideways

Shoestring Players—Cre8ery

Four plays make up this dramedy and each of them are so whimsically fun, they seem to pass in no time. Common to all of the skits, they feel like older British comedy shows, witty, charming, slightly-off, but good, clean fun.

“Anything for You”: This story has so many turns, it feels like driving down a mountain switchback at 20 km/h faster than you should, with a surprising revelation after each twist.

“Duet for Bear and Dog”: This is the funniest segment to me, probably helped by the cuteness factor.

“The Man Who Couldn’t Dance”: “Your baby is ugly…” Have you ever seen such a charming opening line to any story?! Love it!

“Ferris Wheel”: There’s a great life lesson to learn from this one. I missed out on many of life’s great adventures because I was too scared to give it a try. Yeah, I can relate all too well to more than one aspect of this play.

Reviewer’s Note: the final two skits were read by substitute actors because of urgent matters to the regular players. Big compliments to a job well done under tight circumstances.

Ray Yuen

Lost and Foundling

MTYP’s Summer Studio—MTYP – Mainstage

The evil smiley face: that’s the logo that everyone should see when they look at the WalMart icon. When I was young, there was a local grocery store at the end of every street, and we bought our daily dinners fresh off the shelves as we came home. The large grocery stores (Dominion/Safeway/Loblaw) came along, and thanks to economies of scale, could offer the same foods at much lower prices. Plus, they had a variety that the local, corner stores could never compete with. Next came the big malls that meant you could buy everything without having to step outside as you go from store to store. All of this contributed to the death of the corner shops.

Then emerged the super-retailers: the Mega-WalMarts/Superstores/Costcos that sell everything under one roof. They use the same economies of scale to squeeze out the grocery stores. We’re at a stage now where the trifecta of WalMart/Superstore/Costco owns the majority of shoppers and it’s only people like me, who are willing to pay more to avoid the crowds, that eschew the megastores for the smaller grocery stores.

This play satirises the megastore by showing that you can live your entire life in one of these stores and never have to step foot outside. In fact, you can be born in the store and never know that a world exists outside the walls of the megamart. Moreover, this store is so large, the child (raised with the name “Price”) hasn’t even seen more than their own quadrant of the store, and travelling to the “lost and found” is like travelling to another world.

Never mind what’s outside, what scary things lie within the store itself? Fear of the unknown plays a large part in this show as well.

Finally, I count 13 actors during the curtain call. Of the 13, it looks like 85% are women/girls/female. Without seeing a face, we hear that the name of the Store Manager is Dave, and the Assistant Store Manager is named Brian. I wonder if there’s an intentional societal statement about the workplace having 85% non-men/male menial workers, but the two top positions are occupied by men?

Largely meant for a younger audience, the flow and content are sufficiently placed that adults would enjoy it too. There’s one scene that might even give some adults the creeps.

Ray Yuen

Eleanor’s Story: An American Girl In Hitler’s Germany

Ingrid Garner—The Fountain – Portage Place

Brilliant! This is a reprise and if you didn’t get to love this last time, now’s your chance. The respectful buzz from fellow performers had me anticipating this work. This true story told by the granddaughter of the real Eleanor is perfection!

The title is the plot. The ever-changing black and white photos in the background really added to the depth of this experience. We could see and hear the terrifying events our young heroine was subjected to. The similarities with the images, and the atrocities perpetually perpetrated during war, that we are now seeing from Ukraine needed not be voiced. That these crimes and injustices actually happened to her family, made Ingrid’s exquisite tale all the more biting and tragic.

Not a single flaw. Whether you love history and/or appreciate great theatre, this is the show that delivers.

Lisa Campbell

Minoosh Doo-Kapeeshiw

Echo Theatre—Kids Venue

This cute show shows that anyone can be friends. The unlikely duo meet while Minoosh searches for a meal, in non-typical cat fashion. They end up becoming best buds and go on an adventure worthy of any rural hiker.

The simple gadgets give the appearance of “magic” and arouses a few “oohs” from the kids. Silent but briefly narrated in Michif, I couldn’t get most of the words but there are certainly some recognisable French influences.

Ray Yuen