FRINGE TORONTO: Toys, Review by Katherine Sanders


Created by Winston Spear

Presented by Dancycle

Featuring Winston Spear, Freddie Rivas, Andrew Chapman

Presented at Factory Theatre Mainspace, 125 Bathurst Street


Wednesday July 8th 9:15pm
Friday July 10th 5:45pm
Saturday July 11th 11:30pm

Toys delivers what it promises. Toys. Lots of them. In fact watching this show is a lot like watching kids play - and I mean that in a good way. It is, as the program states, unlike anything you have ever seen (on a stage, anyway).

On entering the theatre, we are first greeted by a robot dog and a remote controlled tank doing a minimalist ballet together. These are the sole occupants of the stage, apart from the set which consists of three large styrofoam icebergs - at least, they look like icebergs to me. Their presence throughout the show suggests a barren cold world, which when combined with the various lighted spaceships and flying movements suggests outer space, perhaps an ice planet far from our own. The lights dim, the tank rolls offstage and the dog is carried away, still barking and flapping his ears. That's the last we'll see of him. There is not much repetition in this show, nor is there any narrative structure to grasp onto. It is more a series of vignettes, all involving manipulation of various objects by a cast of three - Winston Spear (the creator), Freddie Rivas, and Andrew Chapman.

All performers are extremely expressive, with their bodies and faces. Although their interactions with the toys are never explained, the importance with which each movement and object is invested makes the show enjoyable. Their overcommitment to each action (I particularly enjoyed Rivas' careful measuring of the space and the audience), is what keeps this show interesting.

The concept is introduced by bringing the first toy out in its original, battered cardboard box. A model airplane is carefully assembled onstage for us by Spear, who then begins to fly the plane around the stage. His movements fluid, his sock feet gliding along the floor, his facial expression wrapped up in the fate of the plane in his hands, we understand that he is not a person, he is the plane. From that moment on, we are taken on a bizarre journey, with flashing lights, miniature houses, and of course it's all set with precision to thumping house music. The expression through movement of each detail of the music is the main source of comedy, as with Spears' solo work (search for it on youtube).

The most successful work in this show is done with light manipulation, and there's lots of it. I longed for some arc, some through-line to tie it all together, but was nevertheless entertained for most of the 45 minute show. An hour would have been pushing it. See this show if you want a taste of the most weird and gleeful that the Fringe has to offer.

1 comment:

Biz said...

Fringe seems to be a is good TV series. It a bit similar to Torchwood and X Files. I just hope that it will not be spoiled.