Click Here to read all our reviews from Toronto Fringe 2024. 


Rat Academy (A)

Crystal clear dramaturgy, impeccable character work, and impressive technical skill mark this clown duet about endangered Albertan rats as a can’t-miss oddity. Honouring the heart of clown tradition with a classic White/Auguste pairing, Katie Yoner and Dayna Lea Hoffmann’s Fingers and Shrimp take the audience with them on a journey to educate each other and, hopefully, survive the dangerous world that sees most of their kind die alone. Genuinely sad, snarkily funny, and profoundly strange, Rat Academy is Fringe at its finest: small, unexpected, unforgettable.


Rosamund (A-)

What’s come to be a yearly tradition at the Fringe, Andrew Seok’s latest musical is once again a lush and ambitious creation presented in concert form by a cast of truly top talent. Seok’s music is always beautiful though slightly repetitive, his lyrics earnest leaning towards cheese, but Rosamund stands out in his generally impressive oeuvre for its uniquely strong book that reimagines Sleeping Beauty by adding depth and complexity while avoiding the simplistic tropes often found in such reimaginings. Seok is unapologetically romantic, making room for a sad and sweet love story amidst his new feminist narrative, and Gabi Epstein’s scene-stealing antagonist has actual character motivation (not that cursing a baby just because you didn’t get a party invite isn’t valid, but there’s more there this time). With some slightly punched up lyrics and maybe the addition of a more up-tempo tune, Rosamund really deserves to be fully staged.


Scenes from an Italian Restaurant (B)

Breakaway Entertainment’s latest is frustratingly disjointed. A cast of fantastic dancers execute choreographer Adam Martino’s work with grace and precision, beautifully embodying the storytelling in Billy Joel and Elton John’s songs. That storytelling is mostly ignored, however, by the confusing book that accompanies the dance in this sort-of musical. Only one cast member sings and speaks, often over a too-loud track wherein Joel or John lays out a fully contradictory narrative, resulting in a gobbledygook of intertwined monologue and lyrics. More careful curation of songs to better fit the chosen story and cleaner narrative structure would elevate the text of this messy show to better match the technical excellence and dramatic effect of the dance elements.


All Of Our Parents Are Immigrants (B-)

Opening night of this improv show from three-person team Affirmative Reaction featured Run the Burbs/Kim’s Convenience star Andrew Phung as a guest star. The show begins with fifteen minutes of interviewing the guest, mining material for the next fifteen minutes of improv. Then the troupe turns to pre-submitted audience suggestions and the guest joins them to form a four-person team playing scenes around audience confessions and quirky family traditions. The double edged sword of this structure lies with the guest- it’s a coup to get a big name like Phung for your Fringe show, but he absolutely overshadows the less established performers whose show it actually is. Quick, physical, and creative, Phung set the bar high on opening night and left the others standing with their hands in their pockets more than once. With the guest set to change at every performance, Affirmative Reaction faces a different risk every day but they’ll need to be quicker on their feet if they want to keep playing among the stars.


Madame Winifred’s Circus of Wonders (B-)

Structurally, this ensemble kids show about a band of circus performers is extremely effective- an overarching whodunnit spotted with character-driven side quests that bring in multidisciplinary elements (Elyssia Giancola’s subplot about replacing her lost dance partner is particularly moving). Pacing issues and a lackluster climax pull the quality down a bit but there’s a lot of promise here for a crowd pleasing TYA hit.


Being Celine (C)

Laura Landauer’s Celine Dion impression is a good bit for a couple of minutes, so-so in broadly accented spoken dialogue but effective and charming when taking on the songstress’ most iconic songs (Landauer doesn’t have Dion’s power, because no one does, but she pulls off a decent magic trick burying the big notes and letting her vocals shine in the lower register verses). The problem isn’t the impression, it’s structure and story. The show is designed to mimic a concert full of Dion’s signature quirks and diva grandeur but there aren’t enough individual beats to fill the time and much of the show ends up devoted to drawn out video sequences full of repeated gags while Landauer changes costume backstage. Tighter pacing, more song density, and some kind of narrative arc are necessary to make Being Celine more than just an impression.


Cancelled! (D)

Confusing structure and a muddled message weigh down this dreary play about cancel culture while broad archetypical characters fail to effectively humanize the playwright’s conceptual arguments. The production’s lack of polish and the script’s lack of subtlety pair disappointingly to let down the complex and sensitive subject matter.