James & JF are Emily James and Ishah Janssen-Faith, a self-described “comedy super duo” from Brooklyn, NY. Their training and credits seem impressive, and some of the audience seemed to enjoy them, so I guess I was missing something.
It’s not that I’m unfamiliar with clown or physical theatre. Perhaps it’s that I prefer my clowning on the darker side. The description of the show made it seem likely to appeal to my mordant taste: it’s the end of the world and James & JF are the last two women on earth, battling the prospect of imminent doom by entertaining themselves, and us, with a series of television programs they have devised.
When you first enter the theatre they greet you at the door, congratulating you on making the travel through time to be there and leading you to sit up at the front. This is very clever: the Tarragon mainstage is very large so the tendency for people to spread themselves out would damage the connection between audience and performers.
That closeness is especially important because this is an interactive show. Unlike actual television, you are expected to occasionally take part, responding to the performer’s questions and providing input.
They have incredible energy, which is impressive, but often I felt their frenetic whirling around the stage was uncontrolled and unfocused. I wish they could have directed all this energy into sketches with more of a discernible point.
Some of the audience appeared to find the hectic movement amusing in itself though, and not all of them seemed to be the same people who James & JF pointed out during curtain call as having other Fringe shows we should see.
Perhaps I’m spoiled by having seen so much fabulous funniness at the Fringe so far this year. Perhaps this is a certain form of physical comedy I just don’t get.
– Channel One plays at Venue 1, Tarragon Theatre Mainspace, 30 Bridgman Avenue.
Fri, July 15 5:15 PM 155
Sat, July 16 11:30 PM 165
Sun, July 17 Noon 166
– All individual Fringe tickets are $10 ($5 for FringeKids) at the door (cash only). Tickets are available online at www.fringetoronto.com, by phone at 416-966-1062, in person at The Randolph Centre for the Arts, 736 Bathurst Street (Advance tickets are $11 – $10+$1 convenience fee)
– Several money-saving passes are available if you plan to see at least 5 shows