Toronto Fringe 11: ‘Bloom’, ‘Sparrow and the Mouse’ and more

by Susan Down

The cast of Bloom

The cast of Bloom

Theatre critic Susan Down continues her reviews from the 2011 Toronto Fringe Festival, which runs until July 17 in venues across Toronto. Reviews include: The Sparrow and the Mouse: Creating the Music of Edith Piaf, So I Married a Muslim, Bloom, and Wishes Are Horses.

Rated: 4/5
Venue: Bathurst Street Theatre

Atom bombs, radiation and a Canadian physicist in World War II. Those are the unlikely elements of Bloom, a highly original dance and spoken word performance. Based on the acclaimed book of poetry by Michael Lista about the Los Alamos research facility and Canadian Louis Slotin, this performance is an event that grabs hold of the viewers through stunning choreography and evocative costumes and subtle lighting. You could argue that poetry is like leaping, choreographed prose anyway. When matched with Lista’s poetry, the result is a whole new genre.

The Sparrow and the Mouse: Creating the Music of Edith Piaf
Rated: 4/5
Venue: Bathurst Street Theatre

Multitalented operatic soprano Melanie Gall has created a charming portrait of Simone Berteaut, half-sister of beloved chanteuse Edith Piaf who sang with her in the Paris streets and was her companion for years. Accompanied by pianist Erin Craig, Gall presents a highly entertaining and high quality musical event (complete with lesser known songs such as Ma Cabane au Canada) with the right amount of costuming to keep it interesting. A lovely show.

So I Married a Muslim
Rated: 3/5
Venue: Theatre Passe Muraille Backspace

Despite the title, which sounds like a comedy routine — I was expecting a Russell Peters-style comedy routine that gently poked fun of each side of the marriage — this is more of a staged confessional monologue recounting the challenges faces by the author/performer Sandra Pascuzzi when she (an Italian Catholic Australian) married an Indonesian Canadian Muslim. Using puppets and a variety of props she relates the story from not only her own but her parents’ point of view. Awkward and slow scene changes interrupted the flow. While the show is earnest and honest, Pascuzzi needs to step back from the personal material and add the theatrical polish it needs.

Wishes Are Horses
Rated: 2.5/5
Venue: Theatre Passe Muraille Mainspace

A physicist presents the theory that wishes really can come true based on careful analysis of electrochemical brain function. It’s an intriguing premise but it lacked the theatrical polish and acting expertise to pull it off at this stage. At times the lines seemed to be difficult to spit out, and the actors relied on mugging and easy physical comedy for laughs which diminished the final outcome.

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