Battle of the Bastards (You Rung?) 2013 Toronto Fringe Review

Battle of the Bastards by You Rung? Productions celebrates the ever-popular William Shakespeare at Tarragon Theatre. Shakespeare is present in other Toronto Fringe 2013 shows, but certainly not performed by one man. Walking into the theatre you wonder if it’s possible for a single person to tackle the Bard’s work.

The worries are especially great because David Ladderman, star of Battle of the Bastards, tackles King Lear, one of Shakespeare’s longest tragedies. I was surprised that this would be a night for comedy. But lo’, I was wrong. Ladderman gave a personable, entertaining and blessedly brief performance.

What was brilliant about the show was that it realized it couldn’t force a single man to do all of King Lear. Instead, the play was dissected to the subplot of the bastard Edmund trying to frame his brother Edgar for land rights. Hence the mention of bastards. Playing only a handful of characters and concentrating on a short plot made the show easy to handle. It was Shakespeare-lite, if you will.

The acting of the Shakespearean characters was done very well. I was shocked at the immediate switches between casual silliness to complete seriousness. There were times when Ladderman recited lines with such resonance that I got goosebumps. This is an extreme contrast against the fourth-wall breaking, audience-chatting Ladderman.

Ladderman is friendly, funny and from New-Zealand if that convinces any of the kiwi-lovers out there. He brings on the entertainment from start to finish. He begins with an admirable juggling act and ends by choosing audience participants to help with the most violent scene in King Lear. Except this scene only gets violent with a poor cantaloupe.

Even though there is a small cast and a low budget, Battle of the Bastards is worth the ticket. Bring family, bring family, bring teenagers – it’s one surefire way to make sure people haven’t forgotten their lessons in high school.


Battle of the Bastards is playing at Tarragon Theatre Mainspace, 30 Bridgman avenue, Toronto


July 6th – 9:15 pm
July 7th – 6:30 pm
July 9th – 1:15 pm
July 10th – 2:15 pm
July 12th – 3:30 pm
July 13th – 8:00pm


  • Individual Fringe tickets are available at the door for $10 ($5 for FringeKids), cash only. Late comers will not be permitted.
  • Advance tickets are $11 ($9 + $2 service charge) are available online at, by phone at 416-966-1062 ext 1,  or in person during the festival at the Festival Box Office in the parking lot behind Honest Ed’s (581 Bloor St W).
  • Value packs are available if you plan to see at least 5 shows.

Photo credit: David Ladderman