One of the great things about the Fringe is that talents both established and up-and-coming can be seen back to back -- even in the same production.
I'll just briefly mention how wonderful it is to see, in The Gladstone Variations (yes, we talk about it a lot, but it's a pretty remarkable show) actors like Robert Naismith and Janet Amos, who helped pioneer Canadian theatre in the 70s, working with performers I first saw in the 80s (Stewart Arnott and Richard Greenblatt, for instance) as well as newer lights like Marc Bendavid, Athena Lamarre and Brett Christopher. Collaboration like this offers the best kind of mentoring. The piece itself was conceived by a group of writers and directors who, while respectful of the art they've inherited, are pushing the theatre envelope.
But the Fringe also allows you to catch esteemed scripts and memorable new ones within a few hours of each other. Take Shaw's Mrs. Warren's Profession, directed by Laurel Smith, which has its final performance tonight in the Hart House music room. Sold out on the night I saw it -- and everyone was sweltering in the heat, including the poor actors in period costume -- the show races along, squeezed into 90 minutes with the actors talking rapidly but always clearly, so that Shaw's text is never lost.
There's not a wrong note in the work of Catherine McNally and Tracy Michailidis, playing, respectively, a mother who makes her living as a brothel keeper and the daughter who learns the source of her privileged lifestyle. Scenes between the two women crackle, and they have good support, especially from Jeffrey Aarles as the mother's sensitive friend. The packed house that evening proves that Toronto audiences indeed like their Shaw.
The next morning I caught Don't Look, a new piece written and performed by Daniel Sadavoy and Rebecca Applebaum, a comedy -- surprisingly -- about incest. The two play cousins who, early in their teens, discover their mutual yen for each other. But it's a troubled road they travel from there, and the weaving together of the two stories is expertly done under director/dramaturg Maya Rabinovitch. Playing multiple characters, Applebaum and Sadavoy are always intriguing, and I look forward to more work from these young theatre artists. Don't Look has two more performances before the end of the Fringe.