Mina Samuels calls New York City home, and Toronto is fortunate to have her as a visitor for this year’s Fringe. She performs her fascinating one-woman show Hazards at The Helen Gardiner Phelan Playhouse, and you should go see it.
Hazards is sort of two plays in one. The first half is very absurdist. Samuels literally crawls onto the stage, eventually becoming upright and walking. She points an imaginary gun at her head and shoots herself. Then things get really interesting.
As Samuels goes through a list of things to be worried about, there’s very effective audio effects helping her convince us all that we’ve gone stark raving mad. She literally has a bag of tricks onstage with her, and from this incorporates a couple of hilarious and thought-inducing interjections. It’s also a very physical performance. Samuels works out her body and her mind in front of us. She is a compelling, brave woman.
When I got home, I checked my library, because I was certain that Samuels had borrowed my Jello Biafra records and Marx Brothers movies. The first half of Hazards struck me as cross between the former Dead Kennedys frontman and my favourite comedy troupe. The first half struck me in a lot of ways.
The second half is a more conventional monologue. We hear stories about Samuels being dropped off at the public library as a child. Her mother would drop Samuels and her brother off, and they would watch movies. She tells vivid details of two of the shorts she saw. Her story was probably longer than the movie, and I think that is intentional.
While more conventional, the second half is also very cerebral. You have to be on your mental toes for Hazards, but it is worth it. It’s like learning while playing.
I’m quite happy that Samuels has come to Toronto to “toy with our minds”. Hazards is definitely a lot of thought-provoking fun. She is most certainly a welcome addition to Fringe, and to Toronto. Thanks Mina!
- Hazards plays at the Helen Gardiner Phelan Playhouse, 89A St George Street
- Performances are:
July 05 05:15 PM
July 06 07:30 PM
July 07 09:00 PM
July 09 03:00 PM
July 10 09:15 PM
July 11 12:15 PM
July 13 11:00 PM
- Tickets for all Mainstage productions are $10 at the door, cash only.
- Advance tickets are $11, and can be purchased online, by phone (416-966-1062 ext. 1), or from the festival box office at the Fringe Club. (Rear of Honest Ed’s, 581 Bloor St. West)
- Money-saving value packs are also available; see website for details.
- LATECOMERS ARE NEVER ADMITTED TO FRINGE SHOWS. To avoid disappointment, be sure to arrive a few minutes before curtain.