Who's Your Daddy?
EAST END PERFORMANCE CRAWL produced by Crow’s Theatre at various venues. To Sunday (June 1). $15, 5-show pass $50. crowstheatre.com, 416-907-0468.
THROUGH THE GAZE OF A NAVEL by Anita Rochon and Emelia Symington Fedy (The Chop Theatre). Saturday (May 31), 2:30 and 8:30 pm, Sunday (June 1), 2:30 pm. Yogathletix (911 Queen East).
Om. My. God. Through The Gaze Of A Navel is a savagely funny interactive yoga session led by Emelia Symington Fedy, who admits she's spent over $68,000 on self-help and enlightenment techniques. These include everything from jade egg therapy (to increase the strength of her vagina) to swimming with 300 baby dolphins.
The yoga itself isn't too demanding (wear comfortable clothing), and Fedy allows you to go at your own pace, although she jokes she'll point out who's the best. (There are chairs for people who just want to watch.) There's a deeper point to the show, involving acceptance of the dark things in your life and understanding the competitiveness and bullshit at the heart of a lot of New Age navel-gazing.
That's what I think, anyway. It's hard to know where truth ends and satire begins, but that's part of the fun. Fedy maintains her deadpan persona throughout, making you laugh, think and open your mind and body to new experiences - as well as a cool form of theatre.
IN CASE WE DISAPPEAR by Vanessa Smythe (Smythe). Tuesday (May 27), 9:30 pm, Friday (May 30), 8 pm, Saturday (May 31), 6 pm, Sunday (June 1), 6 pm. The Purple Purl (1162 Queen East).
Vanessa Smythe blends spoken-word poetry, storytelling and a cappella music in this warmly captivating show, one of the most pleasant discoveries at the festival.
Smythe is a charming, spontaneous performer with a big grin, restless energy and genuine gift for poetic narrative. Her stories ring true, whether she's describing attending her younger brother's Grade 8 graduation or initiating a drunk booty call with an ex.
What's fascinating is how she uses rhythm and melody to tell her tales. They're not sung, exactly, but music - including pauses - informs each one of them.
Performing the show at the Purple Purl knitting café adds a touch of coziness that makes the bittersweet stories feel even more intimate.
About a boy
WHO'S YOUR DADDY? by Johnny O'Callaghan (O'Callaghan). Tuesday (May 27), 8 pm, Wednesday (May 28), 6 pm, Friday (May 30), 9:30 pm, Saturday (May 31), 9 pm, Sunday (June 1), 1 pm. The Loft Apartment (10 Hastings).
Toronto audiences will recognize Johnny O'Callaghan from his Fringe and SummerWorks appearances in shows by playwrights from his native Ireland: Rum And Vodka (Conor McPherson) and Howie The Rookie (Mark O'Rowe). Now the L.A.-based actor returns in his own very good play, Who's Your Daddy?
It's 2006, and O'Callaghan, recovering from a bad relationship and a stalled career, decides to help a friend shoot a documentary in Africa. There, amidst child soldiers and poverty, he meets an adorable boy at an AIDS orphanage and over the next year goes through every step to try to adopt him.
O'Callaghan packs a lot into 90 minutes: his penchant for dating fucked-up men and women, his bigoted, chain-smoking mother, a drunk escapade at the Chateau Marmont, Uganda-style homophobia. Director Aaron Willis helps give a jolt to each scene, helped by Zach Williamson's evocative sound design and the use of every inch of the intimate space.
A couple of things are glossed over - it's not clear why he wants to adopt this particular boy, and although the climax is exciting, there could be a stronger emotional payoff.
But O'Callaghan is an electric performer, and it's hard to imagine anyone resisting his darkly comic adventure.
For more East End Performance Crawl reviews, click here.