Reviews - Fringe 2009

The Fail Whale Tales

By Tom Mackan
Published July 26, 2009

Created and Performed by Todd Van Allen

Well. Theatre, it has been said (by me, at least) is life in a setting. Life in 2009 can be lived without a computer and the internet, but that's a minority (probably the two people who left last night's audience). For the majority it should come as no surprise that a setting made up of a laptop, an enlarged screen representation of that very laptop's desktop, and a guy working it all from that same very laptop is surely theatre. Life has all kinds of settings available in the theatre world.

Twitter is a website that lets millions of computer users connect in 140-word episodes at a time. If you like, take a break for a minute and Google the Twitter entry on Wikipedia. Get to the section about "the fail whale". That will save us some time in the long run.

So. A bit of background music and a serviceable lighting design; a guy comes out and acknowledges the polite applause, then goes to the laptop and brings up a Twitter website on the big screen provided. He and the rest of us (the ones who didn't leave early on) are now connected to the world wide web.

For most of the next hour we have one of the most intimate mind and word-sharing experiences ever, and get this, with the whole wide web world at the ready to take part.

Todd Van Allen is a genius wit in the 140-word category - the world's first silent stand-up. And we're not bad ourselves, as we take a really lively part in it all, surprising ourselves with our own quickness of mind. We laughed a lot, and loved it all very much.

You can catch this show again at 9 pm tonight (Sunday 26 July) at Pepper Jack. Do it.

Tom Mackan is Publisher and editor of NEWZY BITZ, an online Community Theatre newsletter in the GHA, with over 200 subscribers. He is a Member of the Board, Theatre Burlington; an actor and director in GHA Community Theatre for fifty years; winner of over 25 awards and citations in the Western Ontario region and beyond; recipient of 2007 City of Hamilton Arts Award (Theatre); a Graduate of Canadian Theatre School (Sterndale Bennett) Toronto, 1955; and a retired teacher of English and Drama in public and private schools in the GHA and abroad.


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