Much to my shame, I’ve never attended a show at Toronto’s Fringe Festival – until now! Tim applied and acquired media passes for us, so even though I am working full time this week, I’m still trying to get to a show every night I still have available, and have already made a mental note to see about taking time off for this next year.
My first choice for what to see was, in essence, a no-brainer. A one-man show by my very old friend (in that we go way back, not that either of us are old) Darryl Pring was bound to top my personal To See list, anyway, but the fact that I was treated to such a raw, amazing performance for my very first Fringe experience was not what I could have ever dreamed nor expected.
Of course, I know at least some of what Darryl is capable of – he’s hilarious, and likeable – easy to relate to, both whether you are on your own or part of an audience. But this show he’s created goes beyond all of that to something much deeper, much more personal, and somehow even more genuine. He manages to tell the story of a particular individual – his own story specifically of dealing with mental health issues – yet still manages to do it in such a way that everyone can see a bit of their own eccentricities within it.
Pring begins his story at a specific point, then introduces himself in the present, before taking us back to the beginning. Not necessarily the beginning of his life, but rather the beginning (as near as he can reckon) of the particular story he’s telling. Equipped with only a chair, projector and guitar, Pring weaves back and forth through time – through moments in time – and essentially lays himself bare. He asks for honesty, but not without first allowing his own truth to shine through from the moment he takes the stage. There are dark moments, hopeless moments, moments which resonate emotionally with the entire audience, and yes, even crazy moments. All strung together with Pring’s unique, often self-effacing humour, and all told with the stark, genuine sincerity of a man who has walked this path himself, while reflecting upon each and every step, and now wants to share his journey with the world.
And share he does. Pring is not afraid to let his truth shine through even when it’s not necessarily flattering or complimentary, because he recognizes that each step he has taken has brought him to a place in life where things are okay; where things are manageable. And that is his true gift with this show – both to himself, and to his audience. The truth, no matter how difficult it may be, is always better than not having any answers. As I sat in the dark and watched one man bravely tell his particular story, I was able to recognize so much of myself and my own experiences in his expression of the truth, that for the first time in a long time – maybe ever – I felt like I wasn’t alone. Different, certainly, but not alone. He even invited the audience to stay and talk with him outside after the show, to continue the shared experience he had started with us.
My one real regret is that I am not a good enough writer to properly convey how incredible and necessary this show is for everyone to see! Discussions about mental health should not just be done once a year, and raw and real conversations like this don’t even come along that often. I want very much to have Pring on the Mind Reels podcast some evening when he has time free, because I know he has much more to share on many subjects and in many other areas of his life. If Darryl is reading this, please know that what you have created here is important, and has an impact on everyone who experiences it with you. Thank you so much for your courage in expressing your journey out loud, and even more for finding the humour throughout.
OCD – Obsessive Compulsive Darryl is playing as part of Toronto’s Fringe Festival four more times:
July 08 at 12:15 PM
July 09 at 05:45 PM
July 10 at 09:45 PM
July 11 at 08:45 PM
I highly encourage everyone to grab a seat in the dark and let Darryl make you laugh, cry and even think a little bit from time to time! You can get your tickets here!