Fringe Toronto: Swordplay – A Play of Swords


This festival has seen one night constantly topping the next, as I juggle job, studio, blogging and shows… Last night’s performance at the Al Green Theatre by the Sex T-Rex company was ingenious, filled with belly-busting, slow-motion, high-flying physical comedy in all the things we hold true in terms of sword stories, be it fantasy epics, modern fairy tales, or video games, no joke is not skewered by their rapier wit (I couldn’t help myself).

The company, composed of Josef Addleman, Connor Bradbury, Julian Frid, Kaitlin Morrow and Seann Murray had the sold-out audience on their feet by show’s end, after a performance filled with pop culture references, great visual gags, and sheer imagination helping to create some fantastic set pieces. using the framing device used best in The Princess Bride, a grandfather comes to see a sick kid, and instead of reading, play an old school video game, which we then watch as it plays out on the stage, with everything you would expect a video game from the early 90s to contain.

Running references from Dumas to Goldman, and source music running from Danny Elfman to Taylor Swift (that rendition of Shake It Off had people singing as they left the theatre), the show, delightfully, doesn’t take itself seriously and wants the audience to have as much fun as the cast members seem to be having. Laughs abound as our heroes, Barnabas and Salvatore (who eschews his name for a far funnier one), mourning the loss of their friend Roland, race off to save the Princess Scarlett Pimpernel, from an evil tyrant. Not everything is as it seems however, and that is only the beginning of the adventure, as the pair swing, climb, sail, unlock weapons, upgrade and fight (all with minimal set creation, that in itself works brilliantly).

Firing the imagination, and busting the gut, this performance barely leaves the audience time to catch their breath before plunging them into another flurry of jokes, each seemingly topping the last, resulting in the audience in a constant state of joy and applause, happily taking whatever comes next, and wanting more even as the performance ended.

I’ve seen some brilliantly funny things at the Fringe this year, but this one has to be right near the top. It’s sheer joy in stage form; embracing its ingenious insanity and reveling in it.

Bump this one up on your list if you haven’t seen it yet. It plays again, Wednesday at 9:15, Friday at 5:45 and Saturday at 4:00. I so wish I had time to see this one again…

Buy your tickets here.


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