In a mutant-infested apocalyptic future, one janitor and one dog are on a mission to find Graceland, a radio station that’s still broadcasting rock hot jams from an unknown location in the wasteland. Is it the mutant-free paradise that our renegade heroes are hoping for, or will it be stereotypically disappointing? You’ll have to check out WasteLand (Sex T-Rex) at the Toronto Fringe Festival to find out.
If you know anything about Sex T-Rex or have seen any of their shows before, you’ll know what to expect: goofball humour with a lot of heart and rocket-fast pacing; inventive, athletic stage fighting with minimal props and a manic rush of creatively moving bodies across the stage; and thoughtful parody that relies more on breaking conventions and twisting expectations than mere references.
You get a ton of bang for your buck, with giant action scenes, a strong story with tons of surprises, and a sense of wry silliness that always feels wonderfully off-the-cuff. This one is sort of a mash-up of influences, with the most obvious being Mad Max and the Fallout series. Still, the story stands on its own, and you don’t need to be super familiar with any of those things to jump on for the ride–though it certainly does add an extra layer to the fun.
The principle players–Conor Bradbury, Julian Frid, Kaitlin Morrow, Josef Addleman and Sean Murray–all play a variety of characters and materials, from generic thugs to car doors, with total commitment and riotous energy that never ebbs for a second.
In particular, Julian Frid gets a lot of mileage out of the enthusiastically oblivious professor, while the pairing of Bradbury and Morrow is equal parts heartfelt and hilarious as they blunder their way through the wasteland. Seann Murray takes on the show’s unabashed villain, and his straight-faced delivery never fails to elicit a laugh. Josef Addleman’s brief turn as an announcer is one of the funniest recurring gags of the night.
Overall, it’s a real blast of humour and energy, with consistent laughs all the way through. There’s a lot of gore and guts and bleak tropes being turned on their heads here, and while it does occasionally go to some dark places, it’s all with tongue firmly in cheek.
One complaint: the sound in the Randolph has never been great, and I found that everything went so fast, or characters just didn’t speak loudly enough that I occasionally missed jokes. There’s always been an improvisational quality to Sex T-Rex’s scripted shows, and I think some of the more sly asides and exchanges where more than one character was talking at once were lost on me due to the sound. Sit close, if you can!
Similarly, the show uses some shadow puppetry, which is really effectively implemented and makes for a lot of really punchy jokes, but some of the projections were a bit small and it took me a minute to pick up on them from my seat halfway back. Cars in particular.
These are minor complains in the broad scheme of things. Everything that matters is on point: the energy, the humour, the story, and the athletic stagecraft that Sex T-Rex is so good at. If you’re willing to wander the wasteland with these fine folks, I can promise you won’t be disappointed with the view.
- WasteLand plays at the Randolph Theatre. (736 Bathurst St)
- 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.
- Be aware that Fringe performances always start exactly on time, and that latecomers are never admitted.
- Content Warning: Mature Language.
- This venue is wheelchair-accessible through a ramp at the building’s northwest corner. Please arrive early and ask to speak with the House Manager.
- Friday July 1st, 05:15 pm
- Saturday July 2nd, 11:30 pm
- Monday July 4th, 07:45 pm
- Wednesday July 6th, 11:00 pm
- Thursday July 7th, 01:45 pm
- Friday July 8th, 07:30 pm
- Saturday July 9th, 12:00 pm