After your kids see Sharnoozle!, produced by Sometimes Y Theatre and part of Kidsfest at the Fringe Festival of Toronto 2018, they’re going to have a lot of questions. You might want to read up on Cavemen, King Tut, Joan of Arc, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Christopher Columbus, Marco Polo, Amelia Earhart, and Sumo wrestlers. You’re going to meet them all.
The play starts very loudly with a group of cave people yelling and swing clubs at nothing. Daniel (Chris Vergara) arrives and tells the smartest one – a woman – his story. The opening scene includes burping, farting and nose picking, always a hit with kids.
It led me to expect a very different play than the one that followed.
Daniel wants an exciting book to read. The librarian directs him to a magical history book. When he says the magic word “Sharnoozle” the book takes him somewhere in history.
While Daniel’s in Egypt, King Tut’s (Jeremy Leo Curtis) evil half-sister Latara (Emma Ferrante) manages to discover the magic word and travels forward in history, meets Joan of Arc (Hayley Dwolinsky), and steals her sword because she thinks it’s magical.
For the rest of the play Daniel chases Latara through history trying to get the sword back and meeting various famous historical figures.
Ferrante’s Latara was my favourite character. She’s evil without being scary.
Dwolinsky’s Joan of Arc is charming with a delightful french accent. She’s strong and confident and believes in her ability to lead the army to victory.
I’ve just realized as I write this that the famous females that Daniel meets are strong women. Amelia Earhart (Jaymee Fuczek) is incensed when Daniel says he didn’t know girls could be pilots and tells him that there have been many famous women pilots.
Even Latara has a reason for being angry. She’s older than Tut but is only a princess while he is king. She believes that she would be a good queen but can’t be because she’s a woman.
The male characters are played very broadly. Roberto Sapienza’s Christopher Columbus is almost a caricature. Amadeus is pretty much a buffoon.
Curtis’s Marco Polo is absent minded and confused. The exception is King Tut who is played straight, as a reasonable man.
Vergara’s Daniel is sometimes reasonable, sometimes not. Sometimes over the top.
The play itself has some funny moments but, as often happens with children’s theatre, the funniest lines, the best timing, came from the kids.
Latara saw Daniel say something to the book and then disappear. She turned to the audience and asked what was the magic word that he said. A sweet little voice piped up “Sharnoozle”. Immediately lots of little voices started loudly calling out things like “abracadabra” and “hocus-pocus”.
There were quite a few times when one character would ask another character a question and a kid would answer first. Sometimes with the ‘right’ answer and sometimes with an answer that the kid thought should be the right answer. Usually a logical answer. I love that.
I liked the show but I didn’t really connect with it. I had talked to a 7 year old who loved The Space Chums! – which I saw right before – and was also at Sharnoozle so I decided to talk to him again and see how he liked it. He loved it more than Space Chums.
I asked him if he knew about the people Daniel met. He knew about two of them; Christopher Columbus and someone whose name he said very quickly and I missed it.
So there you have it, two thumbs up from the 7 year old. That’s a good recommendation.
- Sharnoozle! plays at the George Ignatieff Theatre. (15 Devonshire Pl.)
- Tickets for Kidsfest shows are $5 for kids (age 12 and younger); adults pay $13.
- Tickets can be purchased online, by telephone (416-966-1062), from the Festival Box Office at Scadding Court (707 Dundas St. W.), and — if any remain — from the venue’s box office starting one hour before curtain.
- The George Ignatieff Theatre is wheelchair-accessible, and has wide aisles for easy mid-show exits.
- Don’t miss the Kidsfest club located on the lawn adjacent to the venue! Free activities for children (3-12) and caregivers run every day of the festival: see website for details.
- Be aware that Fringe performances always start exactly on time, and that latecomers are never admitted.
- Wednesday July 4th, 2:45 pm
- Friday July 6th, 5:00 pm
- Sunday July 8th, 10:30 am
- Monday July 9th, 10:00 am
- Wednesday July 11th, 11:45 am
- Friday July 13th, 4:30 pm
- Saturday July 14th, 3:00 pm
Photo is of the cast in a production by Tokyo Theatre for Children