Porn and Pinochet (Caturro Productions) 2015 Fringe Review

 

Porn & Pinochet is a solo show from Andy Cañete. The strength of this show lies in Cañete’s ‘Everyman’ appeal. He’s willing to be vulnerable. He’s charming and likeable, funny and self-deprecating. He’s the fun guy at the party, spinning tales and keeping everyone laughing. As Cañete reveals right off the top, his background is in stand-up comedy as well as acting, and that style of delivery is very much in evidence throughout the show.

This does create a bit of an identity crisis for ‘Porn and Pinochet,’ however. Is it an extended, highly autobiographical stand-up set, or is it meant to be a more theatrical piece? The beginning & end of the show as well as the way in which Cañete is mic’d suggests the former. If it’s the latter, the raw materials are all there but the presentation needs some tweaking.

The opening night house numbered a few bodies shy of two dozen; the audience was a little reserved, but certainly friendly and receptive to Cañete’s tales. There were a lot of genuine laughs throughout the show. Andy Cañete has an obvious talent for observational humour, and can zero in on the lighter side of the most painful, embarrassing or awkward situations. I enjoyed some really good laughs at fairly dark moments involving his Mom’s childhood threats of castration, and Princess Diana’s death. I mean, he made me laugh about Princess Di’s tragic demise, folks. That’s not for comedy lightweights!

There’s a worthwhile story here, and much going for it. The premise is fascinating, that of “…a Chilean growing up in Canada and a Canadian growing up in Chile.” I loved the examples of culture clash that occurred for Cañete in not one, but two separate countries. We certainly get a feel for it, but I wanted to hear even more about the depth and extent of it, especially as a teen in Chile. We also learn about some difficult family dynamics, particularly between Andy and his father, but it’s unclear what motivated his father to leave Andy feeling so secondary to his siblings.

It’s obviously very personal, poignant and emotionally powerful in a way that goes beyond mere chuckles. However, it needs refining. The story meanders, and seems somewhat over-long. I kept thinking of the metaphor of a gem in the rough; one that needs some buffing, polishing and re-setting in a more flattering arrangement. I see that Cañete is listed as the director as well as performer of this work. I would suggest that finding an outside collaborator – a director or dramaturge – would strengthen and hone the show. For all his talents, he’s lived this material. Successfully self-directing what’s essentially a theatrical autobiography would be a hell of a challenge for anyone. Having someone outside the literal lived experience of the story to help shape, organize, pare it down and tighten it would take it to new heights. All of facets are already there.

Details:

  • Porn & Pinochet is playing until July 12 at the Factory Theatre Studio (125 Bathurst St.)
  • Tickets are $12 in advance, $10 at the door. The festival also offers a range of money-saving passes for serious Fringers.
  • Tickets can be purchased online, by phone (416-966-1062), from the festival box office down Honest Ed’s Alley (581 Bloor West), or from the venue box office starting one hour before the peformance. Venue sales are cash-only.
  • Be advised that Fringe performances always start exactly on time, and latecomers are never admitted. Set your watch to CBC time, and arrive a few minutes early to avoid disappointment.
Remaining Showtimes
July 03 at 10:00 PM
July 05 at 10:00 PM
July 08 at 12:00 PM
July 09 at 07:00 PM
July 10 at 12:00 PM
July 12 at 05:15 PM
Photo of Andy Cañete by Caturro Productions.

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