Fringe review: A Brief History Of Beer

What should be a fun interactive drinking show goes down the drain because of the venue's constraints**

A BRIEF HISTORY OF BEER by the company (Wish Experience). At the Tarragon Mainspace. July 10 at 4:45 pm, July 11 at 3:30 pm, July 13 at 7:30 pm, July 14 at 1:45 pm. See listing. Rating: NN

The projection on stage as I enter the Tarragon Mainspace says, “This is a DRINK-ALONG-SHOW! You may wish to have more than one drink at the ready. You have been warned. )“

But by then, it’s already too late.

Tarragon has a liquor licence, but it doesn’t permit alcohol bought on the outside patio to be brought inside. You can pre-purchase one drink, that will be served in the lobby as you enter, if you buy it in a 5 minute window, 30 minutes before the show, and 15 minutes before the house opened. All of this is new and frustrating information for most patrons. **

So Wish Experience’s opening line of their show, “You’re watching a beer show, in a pub!” rings tantalizingly false for all but a handful who successfully followed Tarragon’s instructions and sit with a drink in hand. Those of us who can participate in the show’s numerous “Cheers!” feel the envious glares of others denied the experience.

All of that is a shame, because Trish Parry and William Glenn are enthusiastic tour guides for the show’s well-researched travel through time (in a “Cheers!”-powered machine), exploring the drink’s profound influence on society and technology.

I can’t help but wonder how enjoyable the show might be in an actual pub, or a venue with an accessible inside bar. As it stands, the show requires revision to be so, and that’s on the company adapt to the constraints of the venue, or own the less then wished for experience. 

** Editor’s note: The Tarragon Theatre has now relxed their rules for this particular show. Patrons are now able to buy beer up until show time.

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