2013 Toronto Fringe Festival: The Prettiest Little Theatre North of San Francisco

The history of a Yukon theatre told from a child's perspective

Presented by Wedded Magpie Company
By Bronwyn Jones with contributions by Alyx Jones

Directed by Alyx Jones

The 1898 Klondike Gold Rush is a revered time in history, often portrayed proudly in film, television, and storybooks. Tales of the gold rush are rarely told by those who were children at the time, but a young perspective is arguably the best way to relay memories, as honesty is found in the innocent excitement of a child. Based on a true story, Bronwyn Jones' The Prettiest Little Theatre North of San Francisco, now playing at the Annex Theatre as part of this year's Toronto Fringe Festival, is a retrospective production centered around The Palace Grand Theatre, run by the narrator's mother and father, in Dawson City, Yukon. The narrator is, for the most part, a little girl, but steps out of character often to play several ghosts and various stage actors.

Jones is a gifted storyteller, which is obvious from the first five minutes of the production. She tells the story of her parents' theatre with a booming voice, strong physicality, and through song, captivating the audience and making excellent use of the stage. The characters she portrays, and the timeline of the story, however, are not the production's strong points. Jones bounces back and forth quickly between characters, living and dead, which makes for a chaotic performance that is very difficult to follow.

The stage is littered with props such as human bones, costume items, and even a small bell, which are all employed at different points in the story. The memories Jones shares are the diary entries of a little girl who is excited about everything happening around her, as well as an account of the building of the Palace Grand Theatre by Arizona Charlie Meadows and his competition by Alex Pantages. It also touches on the affair between Alex Pantages and Klondike Kate, the portrayal of which by Jones is one of the production's highlights.

The Prettiest Little Theatre North of San Francisco suffers from overambition in the amount of characters it brings to life, as well as the number of songs sung by Jones playing various roles. It would have been better to focus on less characters, making it a much easier production to follow and enjoy.

The Prettiest Little Theatre North of San Francisco plays until July 14 at the Annex Theatre. Visit fringetoronto.com for more information.


Show Dates: 
Thu, 2013-07-04 - Sun, 2013-07-14
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