SciFi at Toronto Fringe Fest

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James and Jamesy

The Toronto Fringe Festival earlier this month featured scores of events at a multitude of venues. One mini-theme was science fiction.


The Canadian duo known as James and Jamesy offered an existential performance illuminated only by what appeared to be lampshades on their heads. Winners of a Canadian Comedy Award, they explored the limits of understanding their existence or at least their role in the tableau they found themselves in. Most of the action takes place on stage, but as their exploration continues they recognise the existence of a group of people (known as the audience!).


This leads them to seek further knowledge, and in the case of the performance I attended they found whatever they were seeking on the head of a bald man (see the lead photo). Captivating and funny, it was a most unusual and delightful theatrical experience.


Rob Lloyd, right, with Dr. CunninghamRob Lloyd, right, with Dr. CunninghamScience fiction derived from television was also at Fringe. In this case, the venerable show Dr. Who, which began in 1963. Rob Lloyd gave a great one-man show, during which he expressed particular admiration for the third actor in the role, Jon Pertwee. He was also my favourite, and Lloyd was pleasantly surprised to hear my story of entertaining Pertwee and his wife in my living room one afternoon.


Lloyd, from Melbourne (Australia), gave an impassioned accounting of his experience with the Dr Who show, especially in the 1990s when he first became deeply involved in it. This was the worst possible time to be a Dr Who fan, as the show was off the air and widely derided by fans of such things as Star Trek and Star Wars.


He casts the performance as a trial, where he puts The Doctor on trial: is the TV show guilty of inciting a debilitating obsession in Rob? The ensuing hilarious journey where Lloyd relates his experiences as a Who fan (and look-a-like of one of the Doctors) proved to be irresistible.


While I only had a taste of the Fringe Festival, I could see the enthusiasm and energy of those attending both these two and other events was palpable. Many events were sold out, with ticket prices a steal at only $10. While 2017 Fringe is history, I encourage anyone in Toronto in July 2018 to attend one of Canada's finest cultural events. Check out the website:



Lead photo with this article by C. Cunningham

Clifford Cunningham

Dr. Clifford Cunningham is a planetary scientist. He earned his PhD in the history of astronomy at the University of Southern Queensland, and has undergraduate degrees in science and ancient history from the University of Waterloo. In 2014 he was named a contributor to Encyclopedia Britannica. He is the author of 14 books on asteroids and the history of science. In 1999 he appeared on the TV show Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Asteroid 4276 was named in his honor in 1990 by the International Astronomical Union based on the recommendation of its bureau located at Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

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