Tuck & Daisy, by T&D Productions, is playing at Toronto Fringe Festival as part of FringeKids. Daisy (Adriana Crivici) is a rose, immobilized in her flower pot but strong in voice. Tuck (Greg Rola) is a clown who does not talk at all but dances almost constantly. They are visited by their neighbours, Pam the Pig (Karleena Kelly) who suffers from amnesia, and Hemingway the Spider (Jordi O’Dael) who quotes philosophy.
The four are a delightful team of performers, with the physicality and the larger-than-life presence that make a kid’s show riveting for little ones and charming for their big people. They engaged in just enough audience interaction to let children who need it (as mine does) get their shouties out, without it turning into a maelstrom of kindergartners.
I even laughed out loud myself a number of times, often due to Hemingway’s interjections of sayings from philosophers such as Plato and Lady Gaga, but at least one musical cue got me to guffaw. The music is expertly done by Trevor Barker, including original songs such as the rousing Unique, celebrating individuality and difference.
The story is well crafted, though I do have my reservations about its sensitivity to disability issues. An important crux of the plot is that Tuck was no longer able to carry out his beloved job with the circus when he lost his voice, and he desperately wants both back. In the end he does find his voice, but decides to let it go free somehow, under the assumption that he can now get it back whenever he wants it. It’s cute, in that it’s a result of preferring to stay with his best friend Daisy than leave her for the circus, but I can’t imagine it would be an affirming narrative for a child who speaks ASL.
The pacing, the song and dance numbers, the jokes and the stage visuals are all quite refined and professional. I think TVO could give these guys a series tomorrow, and just apply a diversity lens to the plotting.
- Tuck & Daisy plays at the George Ignatieff Theatre. (15 Devonshire Pl)
- Tickets for FringeKids shows are $5 for kids (age 12 and younger); adults pay $12.
- Tickets are $12 at the door and in advance, and can be bought online, by telephone (416-966-1062), from the Fringe Club at Honest Ed’s Alley, and — if any remain — from the venue’s box office starting one hour before curtain. The festival also offers a range of money-saving passes for serious Fringers.
- The George Ignatieff Theatre is wheelchair-accessible, and has wide aisles for easy mid-show exits.
- Don’t miss the FringeKids club located on the lawn adjacent to the venue! Free activities for children (3-12) and caregivers run every day of the festival: see website for details.
- Be aware that Fringe performances always start exactly on time, and that latecomers are never admitted.
- Thursday June 30th, 02:30 pm
- Friday July 1st, 04:45 pm
- Sunday July 3rd, 01:00 pm
- Monday July 4th, 02:45 pm
- Wednesday July 6th, 02:45 pm
- Thursday July 7th, 10:00 am
- Sunday July 10th, 01:00 pm
Photo of Dustin George Hovey by Trevor Barker