Saturday, 4 July 2015

Toronto Fringe review: A Tournament of Lies

By Nick May

A Tournament of Lies

I walked through the doors of U of T’s Multi-Faith Centre and was greeted by a man at the door; dressed in a three piece suit with the calm sweet demeanor of a funeral director trying to keep you calm, while ushering you to an uncomfortable room.  After pointing me in the right direction, he assured me that he would be ‘joining us shortly’.

This site specific show had me feeling the perfect amount of uncomfortable from the moment I walked in the door. Once inside the ‘Quiet Room’ – a small chapel with seats circling the room against the walls, I felt a buzz of nervous energy from the crowd. I certainly had no idea what to expect and neither did the others. Although the space only fits about 20 people, it was the perfect intimate setting for the show.

We quickly learn that we are there to participate in a funeral ceremony for the departed Alex Young. One by one, the characters naturally approach the crowd, each using props to help share their story. Even though the mood is sad, it is lightened every now and again with singing, instruments and even a bit of dancing.

There was no point when I was truly uncomfortable; the actors did a great job of drawing us in enough and holding our trust. It’s not very often that you can feel safe in such close proximity to someone wielding an axe.

The actors were on-point and played off of each other as a true ensemble. No one stole focus while they individually told their stories about Alex. We learn early in the show that Alex was a lesbian, and you can feel the sadness in her partner Emma’s eyes as she recounts her part of the story.

I had some concerns fully understanding what my takeaway from this piece should be. It may be that our lives are made up of the stories (or lies) that other people tell about us once we’re gone. Or perhaps it’s the fact that we all compete to tell our piece of someone else’s story.

Either way, A Tournament of Lies made me think a lot once it was over. I encourage everyone to step out of their comfort zone to see this show.
Info and tickets to all Toronto Fringe shows can be found at

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