Rochdale: Livin’ the Dream (Hey, How Ya Been?) – 2010 Toronto Fringe Review

by Michelle Barker

Reaching a higher state of mind in Rochdale circa 1969

The plot of Rochdale: Livin’ the Dream at Tarragon is established pretty quickly when you walk into the Main Space; the set is made up of a radio station in one corner, some egg crates, and a graffiti wall featuring pictures of all things psychedelic: flowers, poetry, and lots of drugs.

The story is centred around a group of 20-somethings who live in Rochdale as its inevitable closure draws nearer. Backed by a killer soundscape loaded with artists like The Beatles, the men and women of Rochdale strive to reach a higher state of mind in the immortalized summer of ’69.

I was overwhelmed by the number of people waiting outside of the theatre who seemed to have a personal connection to Rochdale. While standing in line, I wasn’t getting papered by artists from other Fringe shows; instead I was being educated about Rochdale and handed informational pamphlets.

The show itself seems to have an important meaning for all of the actors involved and their passion for the project was clear. I thought that I personally needed more than the hour-long timeslot to connect to the characters and their stories, but the company definitely succeeded in making Rochdale real for me. Although, I didn’t quite buy the presence of heavy-handed modern references to things like Barack Obama, the G20, and ‘Prez’ Hilton.

I have to say that the best part of the show for me was radio host Terry “Tallboy” Tungsten played by Shamier Anderson whose energy throughout the show kept me invested in the story. His character served as a great plot device that really brought the laughs.

Rochdale: Livin’ the Dream is definitely worth checking out for young adults and not-so-young adults alike.

Rochdale: Livin’ the Dream is playing at Tarragon Theatre (30 Bridgman Ave)
– Performance times
Sun, July 4 6:30 PM
Tue, July 6 1:15 PM
Wed, July 7 11:00 PM
Fri, July 9 3:30 PM
Sat, July 10 8:00 PM
– All individual Fringe tickets are $10 ($5 for FringeKids) at the door (cash only), Online at www.fringetoronto.com, by Phone at 416-966-1062, in person (June 30 – July 11 only) at The Randolph Centre for the Arts, 736 Bathurst Street (Advance tickets are $11 ($10+$1 convenience fee), and $5 for FringeKids (no convenience fee for kids tickets).
– Several money-saving passes are available if you plan to see at least 5 shows

0 thoughts on “Rochdale: Livin’ the Dream (Hey, How Ya Been?) – 2010 Toronto Fringe Review”

  1. This show was dripping with bad cliches, bad acting, bad writing, bad directing, and was completely disrespectful to Rochdale. The only people in the audience laughing were meatheads who had never seen a play before. This company could not have been any more shallow about a topic that needn’t have been so. It was just a bad episode of That 70’s Show that pretended to have heart and soul. And the death scene at the end was forced and uncomfortable.

    Nothing original about it. Worst play I have ever seen.

  2. Unfortunately, I have to agree with the previous poster. The characters were alienating and flat, despite energetic performances, striving for nothing more than drugs. After 90 minutes of looking for pot, buying pot and smoking pot, they did not appear to reach any conclusions and neither did I.

  3. Truthfully, I don’t know where to begin with this show. I would love to list all of my qualms with Rochdale using bullets and (countless) profanities, but I feel compelled to show a little respect to the writers of the play for both going through the stress of writing it (though I can’t imagine it having taken longer than it’s going to take me to write this review) and having the gall to put something so utterly appalling on stage- kudos, that takes guts (albeit only guts and no brains).

    To begin with, this “psychedelic” culture is done ad nauseum in film and television (a la That 70’s Show). You can’t just take the same soundtrack from ‘Forrest Gump’, write a cliche ridden and laughably melodramatic script, throw in some horrendous current pop culture references and expect new, original gold. That is a recipe for disaster, and disaster it was.

    The acting was abysmal; they tried so hard to be funny that it was tragic, and they tried harder to be tragic, and it was funny. One had to stifle laughter when young Eden just couldn’t take any more of her cruel world and clumsily sucked back a pound of ecstasy, reciting lines that sounded like bad puns (especially after the audience gave a unanimous “ugh” after every hackneyed phrase). And the “plot device” of the rastafarian..err..well-educated accountant (yet another overdone joke), served as nothing more than a cheesy narrator, and was an obvious display of Rochdale’s inept writing. However, I can’t be so hard on the actors; they did the best they could with the writing, but even the best actors in the world couldn’t make that writing decent.

    “Tallboy’s” presence in the piece, although used undeniably as filler to a play which was already composed of nothing but filler, was primarily historical, as Rochdale college had their own radio station for the first severeal years they were open.
    Aside from him, there was next to nothing historically accurate about the play. In truth, everything was far from accurate. The only other attempt at actual Rochdale history that I can think of is the odd choice to put one of the actors under a sheet, curled up in a pose, presumably the one in which the statue outside Rochdale is, and let him sit there while Eden kills herself. ‘Odd’ is the best word I can think of for that artistic choice.

    I couldn’t agree more with the first poster; everything about the play was unbearably shallow. If I wanted to watch drunk idiots running around like buffoons, crying, telling bad jokes, and attempting to be idealistic, I’d stay home (and I bet I would enjoy myself more and get a heck of a lot more out of it). Never have I ever seen a piece of theatre so awful.

    The writers should be ashamed, and anybody who enjoyed it should be equally ashamed.

    That’s my salute to Rochdale.

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