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Thursday 11 July 2013

Oh, Toronto Fringe: with this calendar of brilliant shows, you’re truly spoiling us.

…except when the calendar fails us and there’s a cancellation, causing a late addition to the Fringe line-up and the performers of said show have to furiously flyer all over the city to plug their show in the hope that someone – anyone – will come and see it because it’s not in the published programme.

Sam Mullins need not have worried about his show Weaksauce being a well attended late-addition Fringe hit: his relentless flyering in queues all across the city may have been admirable, but within days the buzz was hard to ignore. What show did Weaksauce replace? Who the fuck cares! Mullins discusses fate a fair bit in his show and it’s hard not to see the real-life parallels.

It’s presented inauspiciously enough: the simple coming-of-age story of a boy falling in love for the first time aged 16. As a one man show, this was apt to go either way.

But Sam Mullins is possibly the most adorable person on the planet, blending geeky vulnerability with a masterful command of the stage. He not only holds your attention, but actively draws you into his colourful world: there aren’t many characters present in the story, but he presents himself at several different stages in his life, cleverly and subtly delineating the various versions of his younger self. There’s also, of course, the object of his affection, Amanda, and the requisite evil Brit – a love rival by the name of David. While the British accent itself may sound a touch more Australian most of the time (oh, shaddup – how many British reviewers do you think there are at Toronto Fringe? I get to to say this.), David’s overbearing douchebag charm is effectively rendered. Sensitive lighting cues help to evoke different settings as well as day and night, but it’s up to Mullins, a blank stage and a solitary chair to tell the story.

And that’s it: there’s no grand, romantic climax, no dramatic twist in the prologue. This is a touching story, presented simply and beautifully, and made into a riveting piece of theatre by an extremely talented performer. Mullins is truly a masterful storyteller.

The reason I’m bashing out this review quick-smart is that THERE ARE ONLY THREE PERFORMANCES OF WEAKSAUCE LEFT AND YOU NEED TO GO SEE ONE OF THEM. Also, my friends, fans and followers know that I never resort to caps lock internet shouting, but time is of the essence: so do yourself a favour and go see Weaksauce while you still can.