For the love of a dog

I saw John Grady’s solo show, Fear Factor: Canine Edition at the Fringe last night and loved it. There’s only one performance left: Saturday, September 15 at 7:20 pm in the Waterfront. I highly recommend that you catch it. It’s one of the best things I’ve seen at this year’s Fringe.

In Fear Factor, Grady introduces us to his Bernese Mountain Dog, Abby, who lived to be 13. The show is called Fear Factor because, at least in part, it’s about Grady’s fear of facing the death of his companion, the only creature, he says, he’s ever been in love with.

On-stage, Grady cuts a dapper, idiosyncratic figure. With his elegantly trim and long-limbed body clothed in a well-cut grey suit, he looks conservatively urbane. And that makes for some interesting spin. The restraint of Grady’s look—and his delivery—saves his openhearted material from becoming sentimental, which makes it even more moving. And, in the gap between the suit and the dog, Grady creates a space in which loneliness is both identified and assuaged.

The former ballet dancer also has a wonderfully eccentric way with rhythm. He’ll go quiet for long enough to have you thinking, “What the hell?” and then come out of the little ditch he has created with a surprising—and often hilarious—change of direction.

In Fear Factor: Canine Edition, Grady touched my heart. He also impressed me.

About Colin Thomas

Colin Thomas is a Vancouver-based editor, an award-winning playwright, and an established theatre critic. Colin helps writers unlock the full potential of their novels, short stories, screenplays, and children's books.

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