Dina: The Burlapped Crusader (Footpath Productions) 2012 Toronto Fringe Review

Dina: The Burlapped Crusader (Footpath Productions), staged at Theatre Passe Muraille during this year’s Toronto Fringe Festival, encourages audience members to enter the theatre sans the expected (and sometimes ignored) digital etiquette, by leaving our cell phones on. I found myself strangely reluctant to do so.

Many of us no longer trust our sketchy neighbours, the awkward person that makes eye contact on the subway or the weirdo who greets everyone with a booming “good morning!” This story about real human connection is explored through what is probably the biggest cause of our disconnection – our personal electronics.

We are led through this subject by Dina, an eccentric, nervous, and fidgety burlap-clad former Torontonian, who is seeking solace outside the big city. With a series of inanimate objects she tests the hypothesis of whether human connections can be made in a society obsessed with disconnection.

Dina researches and tests her hypothesis with a series of audience tasks (if you hate audience participation shows this is not the show for you). You don’t have to volunteer, but it makes it more fun if you do.As a performer she is energetic, quirky and funny. She is unabashed and completely free in her emotions that tend toward extremes.

What I thought was fantastic about this show is, although it addresses a very relevant lingering question about whether we are too plugged in, attached to our smartphones, tablets and other digital paraphernalia, it does not do so in a way that is preachy, condescending or depressing.

In fact it wasn’t till I was leaving the theatre that I paused to think about the question of face-to-face interaction. According to a communications class I took recently, 93% of spoken communication comes from non-verbal information. What then, are we losing through our online interface today? Do we even need it – and if so, how do we get it back?


  •  Dina: The Burlapped Crusader plays at Venue 10 – Theatre Passe Muraille Mainspace, 16 Ryerson
  • Show times: July 09 05:15 PM, July 11 09:30 PM, July 12 07:00 PM, July 13 11:30 PM
  • All individual Fringe tickets are $10 ($5 for FringeKids) at the door (cash only). Tickets are available online at www.fringetoronto.com, by phone at 416-966-1062, in person at The Randolph Centre for the Arts, 736 Bathurst Street (Advance tickets are $11 – $9 + $2 service charge)
  • Value packs are available if you plan to see at least 5 shows