In Waking Life (Spicy Day) 2019 Toronto Fringe Review

Photo of actors In Waking Life

Hello, my new friend! Would you be interested in an exciting new book club? Because I have got good news for you, my friend! In Waking Life (playing at the Toronto Fringe Festival) is definitely an exciting new book club, and definitely not a hilarious and memorable group seance with two of the best mediums you’ll ever meet. What’s more, it is one of the very best book clubs you’ll see at the festival! Do not miss it, for their finger sandwiches are unforgettable!

Okay, I think we’re alone, so I can level with you: In Waking Life is not actually a book club. It’s a private audience with the Synsk Sisters (Lauren Welchner & Monica Bradford-Lea), who have the answers you seek, and may already know you’re coming.

In Waking Life

The show’s a zippy 50 minutes of fortune-telling, card-reading, horoscope-casting and audience advice, set against a backdrop which feels like an SNL sketch gone right. You’d have to be made of stone not to laugh at this show: even the performers struggle to keep the giggles at bay, and are more than happy to play with whatever the audience brings along for the ride.

Speaking of the audience, In Waking Life is an object lesson in audience participation done properly. You will be the centre of attention (the house lights stay up, and you’ll be cajoled into the front rows: no hiding!), but you won’t feel put on the spot or forced to go along with anything. It’s all so gentle and softly-softly that much of it barely amounts to audience participation at all: we’re just the canvas these artists are painting upon.

This is also a show for all audiences: the overall energy is playful and non-judgemental. Everyone along the spectrum from skeptic to scholar (and all the “spiritual-but-only-in-a-fun-non-committal-way” people in between) will get their hooks right into the show.

Highlights: a spoken-word bit dealing with zodiac signs; a highly millennial tarot reading; an encounter with true love itself; and the simple pleasure of watching two gifted, perfectly-matched performers play with and off each other.

This is an ideal date show, especially in such an intimate room — but if you like funny shows and have any stomach at all for interacting with a performer, you’ll find a lot to love in In Waking Life.


  • In Waking Life plays at the Streetcar Crowsnest Studio. (345 Carlaw 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 Warning: audience participation.
  • 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.


  • Saturday July 6th, 10:15 pm
  • Monday July 8th, 4:00 pm
  • Wednesday July 10th, 5:45 pm
  • Thursday July 11th, 4:15 pm
  • Saturday July 13th, 8:30 pm
  • Sunday July 14th, 2:30 pm

Starfield photo by Evan Welchner.  Basement photo by Cullen Elijah McGrail. (Both photos feature Monica Bradford-Lea and Lauren Welchner.)