DRINK OF CHOICE by Holly Wyder (Holly Would Productions/Fringe). At Streetcar Crowsnest Studio. July 10 at 9:15 pm, July 11 at 7:45 pm, July 12 at 6 pm, July 14 at 12:45 pm. See listing. Rating: NNN
Playing a heightened on-stage version of herself as a server in a sparsely patronized bar, Holly Wyder styles her solo show as a Choose Your Own Adventure, as front-row patrons select drinks from a menu. Her character’s mixology is abysmal, but the drinks aren’t the point: the audience choices trigger various set selections by Wyder including a magic trick and an acoustic guitar song. They’re all vehicles for the performer to address how her asexuality has affected so many of her relationships. “It’s not that I don’t enjoy sex,” she explains. “It’s just that I don’t care for it.”
The format means the show will differ with each performance, but all selections by the audience presumably lead to different stories on how dating and intimacy have been rife with pitfalls for Wyder. While everyone seems to have an opinion on her sexuality, it becomes clear that this engaging storyteller is most concerned about her mental health. Her character verges on manic in the way she treats her damaged smartphone and insouciant ex, and focuses on things she can’t control before eventually honing in on those she can. “I’m emotional, expressive and intense, which I love about me,” she asserts, as the show ends on an optimistic note.
Correction (July 9): An earlier version of this review incorrectly characterized an audience member who happens to be on the autism spectrum as a heckler when in fact they were allowed to speak as part of the performance. Furthermore, the characterization was marginalizing and inappropriate and we apologize to the audience member, Holly Wyder, Holly Would Productions and the Toronto Fringe Festival for the error.