Honest Aesop’s Fables (Taradiddle) 2013 Toronto Fringe Review

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Children’s theatre is such a tough needle to thread – amuse people of wildly varying tastes and intellectual abilities, sing, dance, don’t scare anyone so much they pee their pants. Every foray into a theatre with a kid is a bit of a crapshoot anyway, since their fears and likes and level of patience is so variable, and the line for Honest Aesop’s Fables was basically full of parents thinking “Please o please, gods of Fringe, let this go well!”

Spoiler alert: it goes well.

The premise of the show is that Hare, that rascal, is vexed at how late Aesop is for storytime, and so lets quite a few his characters out of their trunks. They run amok – sort of.

What the characters actually do is demonstrate all the same morals as the stories originally had, but with a modern update, a bit of verve, and perhaps most interestingly to my personal three-and-a-half year old – a healthy dose of problem-solving ability. They stories all reach the same beloved conclusions (it’s good to help, share, cooperate, and be kind) but they take charming detours from their original paths along the way.

All the actors play a number of different characters, and I have no idea which of the ensemble was who. They’re all quite good. Some of the characters have a little more to do, or somewhat more fun characters to play, but everyone seems to get at least one turn in a really great, fun role – the lion, the hare, the tortoise, Mercury, Sally who brokers peace between the sun and the wind – they’re all just a lot of fun.

My son, who enjoyed the show enormously, was most impressed by how the various setpieces kept just popping up out of nowhere, although he also loved the ants and commented afterwards that ants are all very polite (in a charming moment, all the ants take a moment at the beginning of their workday to touch antennae and say “Thank you for your work”). He was nervous about the lion at first, as were some other children – a few of whom left – but after being reassured that it was a boy in a lion suit he was willing to reassess the lion situation, and ultimately when asked who was his favorite character he named the lion at the top of his list.

There are a few places where this is a little flat, or did not seem entirely clear in action to the smaller children. That’s okay. My small son wanted to talk about what he saw, and what he thought and felt about what he saw, all the way home. Then he wanted to re-read the original stories, so we could figure out, and discuss, how what we saw was different than the ones we had read. As a parent, those two things are my kids-theatre dream, and they make Honest Aesop’s Fables aces in my book.

Details:

Honest Aesop’s Fables is playing at the Palmerston Theatre (560 Palmerston Avenue)

Remaining Performances

July 07 05:45 PM
July 08 02:45 PM
July 09 04:15 PM
July 11 05:15 PM
July 12 01:00 PM
July 13 04:15 PM

Tickets

  • Individual Fringe tickets are available at the door for $10 ($5 for FringeKids), cash only. Late comers will not be permitted.
  • Advance tickets are $11 ($9 + $2 service charge) are available online at fringetoronto.com, by phone at 416-966-1062 ext 1, or in person during the festival at the Festival Box Office in the parking lot behind Honest Ed’s (581 Bloor St W).
  • Value packs are available if you plan to see at least 5 shows

photograph provided by the company.

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