My Theatre

08 July 2019

Toronto Fringe, 2019: Part IV

By // Theatre (Toronto)

photo by Bryan Cacciatore

Take a look at our full list of 2019 Fringe reviews HERE.

Clotheswap (A-)
I love a good in-real-life clothes swap, so I was quite excited to see Amanda Barker’s and Dale Boyer’s production, Clotheswap. I was even more happy to see that I could bring my own clothes to the show and that those clothes would be donated to two very deserving organizations, Sistering and Dress for Success Toronto, so I packed up a bag and headed to The Textile Museum of Canada.  Outside of the good work that this production is doing for the community and the environment (it is a zero footprint show!), the show is really good! The five women of the cast (Amanda Barker, Cassie Cao, Ashley Comeau, Tarah Consoli, and Karen Parker) are a talented and funny group. They drink, they swear, they share their stories of grief, relationships, and motherhood with stark honesty and humour that make them relatable to the audience assembled in the small theatre. It is fun to see them sift through the clothing strewn about the stage, putting pieces on and taking them off as often as they change topics of discussion. Amanda Barker’s character Brenda ends up in a sweater that I brought with me for most of the show. It’s funny how her wearing that sweater made me feel just a little special while I watched her character wrestle with her own demons – insecurity in her marriage, as a mother, and as a woman. She could be any one of us. Indeed this show tackles a multitude of present-day issues – environmental issues, racism, feminism – that at times it seems too much is being debated on stage, but that is what also makes it a realistic representation of our modern world. The fact that we often times get to laugh along with the characters makes all of these issues a little more digestible.

ADHD Project (B+)
Life hasn’t always been easy for Carlyn Rhamey. Growing up, she was always a bit different than other kids. You see, Carlyn was diagnosed with ADHD in grade two. As a teacher, I can confirm that this is fairly regular identification in the year 2019, but in the late 1990s, when Carlyn was first diagnosed, she faced an uphill battle to gain the acceptance of her peers and navigate an education system that did not always accommodate her specific needs. It is from these experiences that The ADHD Project was born. As a storyteller, Rhamey is funny, charming, and engaging. The medical details of an ADHD diagnosis are discussed in an amusing and simplified way (with visuals) for members of the audience who may be unfamiliar with how the condition affects the brain’s function.  However this is also where I get a bit hung up with The ADHD Project. The show has a very “inspirational” or “motivational” speaker feel to it, almost as though it’s a Ted Talk as opposed to a theatrical production. The sparse set decoration and accompanying videos and images add to this aesthetic. The production is so informative and important for reasons beyond these observations though. It helps those identified with an ADHD diagnosis, especially younger audience members in attendance, feel less alone in the world and may help them see that a diagnosis does not mean the end of their journey. It also helps people unfamiliar with ADHD understand the condition more fully. Rhamey will certainly find further success and help many more young people when she takes The ADHD Project on the road this coming school year as part of the Prologue for the Performing Arts educational programming.

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