Weirder thou Art produced by Physically Speaking playing at the Toronto Fringe Festival emerges from the Bouffon school of theatre. Bouffon, the French word from which the English word “buffoon” originates, is a form of clowning that emphasizes jester-style mockery of human foibles, and can include slapstick comedy, exaggerated bodily features, farce, burlesque, and satire.
In this show the three witches from Macbeth, who have been mystically frozen in time, have kidnapped young playwright William Shakespeare and are forcing him to co-author and take the lead role in a bizarre, inaugural production of the Scottish Play.
Having had no exposure to this style of French theatre developed by Jacques Lecoq in the 1960s, I had no preconceived notions about what form the production would take. The humour did not land for either me or my companion, and I am not sure if this was owing to this particular show, or a lack of resonance with the genre.
In any event, Weirder thou Art is not my brand of comedy. I was strongly reminded of the kind of Saturday Night Live sketch that barely makes sense to me and feels like it goes on way too long. The show read to me as a long string of crude sex jokes and physical comedy riffing on the “old hag” archetype that had little cohesion.
The company has done a good job of developing the costumes and the props, and the cast demonstrates strong talent for physical comedy and clowning. Despite these strengths, I just wasn’t engaged and had lost focus by the end of the show.
The primary goal of this production appeared to be entertainment rather than provoking thought. It was clear that it accomplished this goal for many audience members. I heard a steady stream of chuckles and guffaws from patrons in nearby seats.
This wasn’t for me, but that doesn’t mean it’s not for you. An hour of penis-sword, jizz, and droopy boob jokes just aren’t my jam.
- Weirder Thou Art plays at the St. Vladimir Institute. (620 Spadina Ave.)
- Tickets are $12. The festival also offers a range of money-saving passes for serious Fringers.
- Tickets can be purchased online, by telephone (416-966-1062), from the Fringe Club at Scadding Court, and — if any remain — from the venue’s box office starting one hour before curtain.
- Be aware that Fringe performances always start exactly on time, and that latecomers are never admitted.
- Content Warnings: Unsuitable for Minors, Sexual Content, Audience Participation, Mature Language.
- This venue is wheelchair-accessible through a secondary route. After the building’s business hours, a staff member will need to escort you through this route, so plan to arrive early for evening shows.
- Thursday July 6th, 08:15 pm
- Saturday July 8th, 03:30 pm
- Sunday July 9th, 05:15 pm
- Tuesday July 11th, 10:15 pm
- Wednesday July 12th, 01:45 pm
- Friday July 14th, 12:00 pm
- Sunday July 16th, 08:30 pm
Photo of Stephen Flett, Ronak Singh, Philip Krusto, and Anne Shepherd by Ardyth Johnson