Alex Dallas enters the stage and captivates us with her funny, rage-inducing, excellent storytelling. Though she mentions her age frequently, sixty-one for the record, she reads more as an impish pre-teen, aided by her small stature and costume of ripped overalls and a bright, floral blouse. This chameleonic quality assists with her storytelling as she takes us on a journey of men’s bad behaviour throughout her lifetime, from the time she was eight years old to the present.
The litany of abuse is long; whether telling off inappropriate teachers or suffering their wandering hands, confronting manspreaders on public transit, or sifting through the mire of dating apps, Dallas tells us that nowhere is safe. Women’s reality is her childhood nightmare come true, where wolves circle the house in the darkness, waiting for their prey.
Alex Dallas has a delightful presence and when the show ended, I left wanting more, testament to a performer at the top of her game.
Part of this feeling of not being full also comes from my preference for a strong narrative arc. I feel that Dallas feeds us morsels rather than a full meal in these fifty minutes. Some details are brought up that go unexplored; I REALLY want to dive more deeply into Dallas’s grandmother’s electroshock therapy treatments, her dad’s meticulously catalogued porn collection, family secrets, and the significance of the title ‘Horseface’, beyond a mention off the top.
Dallas takes us back and forth and back again across decades, and I believe story progression suffers as a result. The show never fully reaches a climax, though there is a terrifying story close to the end that qualifies. What’s missing for me is a build to this moment, which could be achieved through an overall chronological telling, or a telling based on carefully crafted moments, each successive one more dangerous than the last.
Horseface has a wonderful mix of rage, humour, and feminism. As mentioned in the program, “[i]f your dad had a porn collection … or you’ve ever wanted to kick a man in the balls, this show is for you!’
- Horseface plays at the Annex Theatre. (736 Bathurst St.)
- 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 (275 Bathurst St.), and — if any remain — from the venue’s box office starting one hour before curtain.
- Content Warnings: mature language; sexual content.
- This venue is wheelchair-accessible through a secondary route which requires a staff escort. Check in at the box office at least 15 minutes prior to showtime.
- Be aware that Fringe performances always start exactly on time, and that latecomers are never admitted.
- The Toronto Fringe Festival is scent-free: please do not wear perfumes, colognes, or other strongly-scented products.
- Wednesday July 3rd, 6:00 pm
- Friday July 5th, 10:15 pm
- Saturday July 6th, 3:30 pm
- Monday July 8th, 8:15 pm
- Tuesday July 9th, 4:00 pm
- Thursday July 11th, 8:45 pm
- Sunday July 14th, 12:15 pm
Photo of Alex Dallas provided by the company.