If you’ve been looking for a show that combines She-Ra, indie rock, Patrick Swayze, and emotional breakdowns — and I know you have — look no further than PUMP! by Cat and the Queen, which plays at the 2019 Toronto Fringe Festival.
Singer-songwriter Cat Montgomery is the first half of Cat and the Queen; “the Queen” is her trusted keyboard. According to Montgomery’s website, PUMP! is a bio-pic rock show about “over consumption in regards to booze, food, loneliness and love” which feels accurate. When Montgomery goes, she goes hard, in both her monologues and songs. It’s a solo show, but Montgomery is accompanied onstage by drummer Dave Love and saxophonist S. Quinn Hoodless.
The show opens with Cat’s young self, Kitty “Pump You Up” Magic, performing an imaginary rock concert in her parents’ closet. We then watch Kitty grow into a hot mess of a 38-year-old who only has mustard in her fridge. (In her defense, the world is on fire anyway, which… true).
Montgomery is a comfortable performer, and engages with the audience while occasionally laughing at herself. I know the line of dialogue “Peanut butter is my drug of choice” made her instantly relatable to this audience member. She travels the all-too-familiar path from a child with dreams to an adult with crushed dreams in a tight 50-minute show.
The music is comprised of mostly original pieces by Montgomery performed with a raw, indie vibe. I say “mostly” because there is one piece called “Sonata Toxique” that’s a mash-up of Britney Spears and Beethoven with Montgomery’s own spin added to it.
The music was great, as were the musicians, although I couldn’t quite say the same for the acoustics. Theatre Passe Muraille Mainspace didn’t feel like the best venue for this piece — the large space dwarfs the intimate show, which would seem more at home in a grittier, Tranzac-ier space. One more note: the listing also promised projections, but I don’t recall seeing any at my show — not sure if that’s an artistic change or an opening night snafu. Don’t let that be a deal-breaker, though — the music is the main draw in PUMP!, and that’s where the show does deliver.
- PUMP! plays at the Theatre Passe Muraille Mainspace. (16 Ryerson Ave.)
- Tickets are $13, including a $2 service charge. The festival also offers a range of money-saving passes and discounts for serious Fringers.
- Tickets can be purchased online, by telephone (416-966-1062), from the Festival Box Office at Scadding Court (275 Bathurst St.), and — if any remain — from the venue’s box office starting one hour before curtain.
- Content Warnings: mature language; sexual content; not recommended for children.
- This venue is wheelchair-accessible. Accessible seating is in the very front row.
- Be aware that Fringe performances always start exactly on time, and that latecomers are never admitted.
- The Toronto Fringe Festival is scent-free: please do not wear perfumes, colognes, or other strongly-scented products.
- Thursday July 4th, 6:15 pm
- Saturday July 6th, 2:30 pm
- Sunday July 7th, 5:15 pm
- Tuesday July 9th, 8:00 pm
- Wednesday July 10th, 4:30 pm
- Friday July 12th, 10:45 pm
- Saturday July 13th, 6:45 pm
Photo of Cat Montgomery by Meaghan Harris