The Weight Of It All, a show about weight and diet culture at this year’s Toronto Fringe, attempts to combine a critique of diet culture, a body-positive message, modern dance, original music, sensitive discussion of infertility, and much more to the stage. So much more, in fact, that I felt it didn’t quite stand up under the weight.
Here’s the thing about The Weight Of It All — I didn’t think it was really a good show. It’s the beginnings of four different good shows, all smushed together into a single Fringe hour. It feels organized roughly like the mix tapes I used to make in Grade 8 in which musical whiplash was the entire point. I was entranced by my own “eclectic” taste in music and I showed it off by putting a Billy Joel track right after a Violent Femmes track and if you didn’t like it, tough.
In this case, performer Gillian Bartolucci has obviously got a lot of talent.
The Weight Of It All includes: about ten minutes of blisteringly funny bits about weight loss and diet culture that could go immediately to the writers room at Saturday Night Live and probably should.
There’s five intensely felt minutes of mixed spoken-word and modern dance about waiting for cancer results good enough for a Canada Council grant right now.
Then there are the first 20 minutes of a very bookable middle-school assembly show about diet and weight loss.
And also, about fifteen minutes of a Patron’s Pick in the Tarragon Solo Room about in/fertility.
As individual pieces they’re all interesting. As a single show, they made me want to dump every note card onto the table and re-arrange.
Director Carly Heffernan does well helping Bartolucci find the full flavor of each moment, but the ingredients don’t combine well; I had a sort of theatrical indigestion afterwards. I want a solo show to have an arc, or a story, or even to be firmly and decisively post-story, but I found this to be more “a broad theme around which some bits are loosely arranged.” I find I cannot strongly recommend it in the current incarnation, but if any of these cuttings takes root and grows I’d bet money on it being good.
This review is based on the July 4 preview performance of the production.
- The Weight Of It All plays at the Theatre Passe Muraille Backspace. (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; audience participation; not recommended for children.
- This venue is wheelchair-accessible. Accessible seating is in the 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, 6:00 pm
- Friday July 5th, 6:30 pm
- Saturday July 6th, 3:15 pm
- Sunday July 7th, 2:45 pm
- Monday July 8th, 10:45 pm
- Tuesday July 9th, 3:15 pm
- Thursday July 11th, 8:00 pm
- Saturday July 13th, 4:30 pm
image provided by the company; art by Emily Richardson