There are stories of personal journeys filled with interesting characters and thoughtful moments. They can be done as a series of vignettes jumping back and forth in time providing details and context. I felt that LIGHTS! CAMERAS! ODD JOBS?, on stage as part of the Toronto Fringe Festival, wanted to have all those things but it didn’t really know how to put it all together.
LIGHTS! CAMERAS! ODD JOBS? is an autobiographical one-man show where Arthur Mackinnon talks about his brief life as an actor. He talks about doing theatre as a child and trying to make it as an adult while working a bunch of different jobs along the way, from the stereotypical server and bussing jobs, to picking cherries in the Okanagan valley or as part of a moving company in Vancouver.
My problem with the show is that it didn’t really let us sit in any one spot long enough to get to know anything. We zoomed from personal moment to personal moment at a breakneck pace. I never felt that I was anywhere other than getting an up close and personal IMDB run down of Mackinnon’s acting career. At times, this left me feeling awkward or annoyed, and I thought it felt self-indulgent.
I didn’t think the show knew what story it was telling either. There really wasn’t any sort of thread other than the chronological timeline of “I got this part and I then had to work this job.”
Which is sad, because I thought there were some lovely moments sprinkled throughout. I was interested whenever Mackinnon sat in the audience and started talking to us about what was happening. I felt connected to his story then, but that was fleeting. There was the moving company boss who was a great character, as well as the people that Mackinnon met while moving their homes. I wanted to hear more about how his odd job brought him into contact with these people; what impact these jobs and these people had on him. Sadly, it was one or two lines and then right back to talking about auditions and booking jobs.
I could feel the effort and energy that Mackinnon was pouring into the work, but unfortunately the play didn’t end up interesting me at all. I felt like this was a very Justin Bieber: My Story kind of play. Lots of good intentions, lots of effort and energy, but it didn’t have enough there to be worth seeing.
- LIGHTS! CAMERAS! ODD JOBS? plays at the Annex Theatre. (736 Bathurst St.)
- 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; audience participation.
- This venue is wheelchair-accessible through a secondary route which requires a staff escort. Check in at the box office at least 15 minutes prior to showtime.
- 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, 10:30 pm
- Saturday July 6th, 5:15 pm
- Sunday July 7th, 8:00 pm
- Tuesday July 9th, 5:45 pm
- Thursday July 11th, 3:00 pm
- Friday July 12th, 1:15 pm
- Saturday July 13th, 4:45 pm
Photo of Arthur MacKinnon by Olivia MacKinnon