Saturday, 4 July 2015

Toronto Fringe review: The Untitled Sam Mullins Project

By Christopher Douglas

The Untitled Sam Mullins Project
As the title may indicate, Sam Mullins is the focus of the show.  In fact, he is the only thing on stage.  You don't know who he is?  No worries, this storytelling piece lets the audience in to find out four "truths" about his life, which reveal to us the depth of his love stories, his acting school days, his panic attacks and some familial connections.
Mullins is a masterful storyteller.  Having come up with a strong framework for his vignettes - that of a comedy class where he was asked to define his truths to use as material - he structures the piece practically and efficiently.  His stories occasionally feel meandering and usually lack obvious punchline completion.  However, it's more about the experience of hearing him speak - this charmingly awkward but confident performer - that draws the audience in.  While I may not have hung off every word he said, my mind didn't wander from what Mullins was narrating, which actually is a backhanded compliment for solo shows where all too frequently a busy brain distracts me from the proceedings.
Occasionally, the show resembles therapy because of how personal it is - and that is intentional.  Mullins reveals that he was basically instructed by a doctor to write down what led to his anxieties and to exorcise them.  He decided to do so on stage, in the profession and venue that he has always been passionate about.  The intersection of performative psychotherapy late in the piece and the actual Fringe show that Mullins uses here unsettles as it entertains, especially following the poignant distance of the father and son story that proceeded it.
While the title may seem unfinished, the show is not - and yes, he does explain why the name of the show is so vague.  Mullins is a super storyteller and his shows (of which this is the third or fourth) simply keep demonstrating that he is the next star on the Fringe scene.
Info and tickets for all Toronto Fringe shows can be found at

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