Fringe Review: Pen Pals – Atomic Johnson Productions

By Crystal Wood


There’s a line in Pen Pals where one of the main characters tells the story of going to see a play that made time slow down to what he referred to as “church time.”

Pen Pals felt a little like church time to me.

I wanted to love this play; I really did. This story, about two screenwriting partners desperate to come up with a few brilliant ideas before a big pitch meeting hits pretty close to home, what with the stack of unsold writing piling up on my own desk. But the play never stopped being a series of one-liners (funny one-liners, granted) long enough for me to actually relate to the characters.

What the play does do is come up with a number of pop-culture references that show an obvious love of movies by the writers, and a string of quippy comebacks which would probably work really well in stand-up or sketch, but which in a narrative play falls just short of believable.

Holm Bradwell and Andrew Patterson give earnest, high-energy performances, but I personally preferred Patterson, who plays the more slovenly, Cheeto-loving of the two roommates.

In short, Pen Pals provides a few chuckles, but I’m still on the search for my own “best of the fest.”


Written and performed by Holm Bradwell and Andrew Patterson.

Venue 2, Robert Gill Theatre

Tues, July 7 8:45 PM
Wed, July 8 5:45 PM
Thu, July 9 3:30 PM
Fri, July 10 1:45 PM
Sun, July 12 7:30 PM

 – All individual Fringe tickets are $10 at the door (cash only), or with interac and credit at the advance ticket box office at the Fringe Club (292 Brunswick Ave)

Advance tickets are available by phone (416-966-1062) or at, there is a $2 service charge for these

– Several money-saving passes are available if you plan to see at least 5 shows

Photo of Andrew Patterson and Holm Bradwell