I was drawn to seeing Flooded: A Show And Sail Around The Toronto Islands at Pirate Life Boat by NorthAmerica at the Toronto Fringe Festival because I was curious about what seeing theatre on a boat would be like. I’d also had memorable experiences with site-specific shows at the Fringe Festival before, and figured it couldn’t hurt to see another.
It was a bright, uncomfortably hot day when I made my way to Pirate Life. The theatre patrons and I were ushered into a decently sized boat and told to sit on the steps, where there would be a good view of the main stage area.
The show started with a short song about a shipwreck, and progressed from there. Flooded is basically about expressing emotions, and telling a story through physical movement. It’s also a refreshing boat cruise around the Toronto Islands.
All four actors in the show worked well together, and supported each other’s movements. I was especially impressed with how well Ara Glenn-Johanson expressed emotion, and how authentic the performance felt. (NOTE: Glenn-Johanson, the director of this show, filled in for Nicole Wilson during this performance.)
Flooded was silly sometimes, but it worked. NorthAmerica did a fantastic job of writing a show to fit this specific venue. The ship’s movements and various ordinary noises from Lake Ontario added to the show’s charm. My favourite silly moment was when Duncan Rowe and Hayden Finkelshtain acted out a fight in slow motion. I also enjoyed seeing Hayden Finkelshtain’s character get two buckets of water thrown in his face.
A memorable, more “serious” moment I enjoyed was when Melanie Leon’s character got angry, climbed on to one of the ship’s masts, and then started crying. I could sense her frustration. In a spectacular display of teamwork and synchronicity, Duncan Rowe’s character caught her when she purposely dropped from the mast.
It took me some time to really get into the show, but my impression is that everything meshed well together. The actors, venue, and type of performance all fit. Even the way the actors involved the audience fit (they made the whole audience move to one side of the boat so Duncan Rowe’s character could read a message in a bottle). I was scared to move, but was grateful when my new seat was in a cooler spot on the ship. Plus, Rowe’s character was so excited over the message he read.
Flooded ended the way it began- with a song. The ending worked, but was a bit unconventional. I hesitate to recommend this show to everyone because there are many situational factors that could make-or-break the experience–weather, comfort level with boats, and where you sit being some of them. Personally, I appreciated seeing this show. It was a great end to a hot day, and pushed me out of my comfort zone in a tolerable way.
- Flooded: A Show And Sail Around The Toronto Islands plays at the Pirate Life Boat. (333 Lakeshore Boulevard)
- Tickets are $13, including a $2 service charge. The festival also offers a range of money-saving passes and discounts for serious Fringers.
- 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.
- Content Warnings: Sexual content; Unconventional venue; Outdoors; Vigorous physical activity.
- The Fringe Festival considers this venue to be wheelchair-accessible.
- Be aware that Fringe performances always start exactly on time, and that latecomers are never admitted.
- Wednesday July 4th, 7:00 pm
- Thursday July 5th, 7:00 pm
- Friday July 6th, 7:00 pm
- Saturday July 7th, 7:00 pm
- Sunday July 8th, 7:00 pm
- Monday July 9th, 7:00 pm
- Wednesday July 11th, 7:00 pm
- Thursday July 12th, 7:00 pm
- Friday July 13th, 7:00 pm
- Saturday July 14th, 7:00 pm
- Sunday July 15th, 7:00 pm
Photo of Hayden Finkelshtain, Melanie Leon, Duncan Rowe, and Nicole Wilson by Ara Glenn-Johanson.