“The Break-Up Diet” on the menu for Toronto Fringe Festival
by Lisha Van Nieuwenhove
Once heralded by Eye Magazine as “The Godmother of Canadian Indie,” popular Uxbridge musician Tamara Williamson, and her band Mrs. Torrance, have reunited after 20 years to perform “The Break-Up Diet” – an autobiographical, alt-rock musical about the swift collapse of Williamson’s seemingly perfect marriage, at Toronto Fringe Festival next week.
“The Break-Up Diet” tells the story of a year in the life of Williamson as she endures the quick disintegration of her outwardly perfect marriage.
“It sideswiped me, then it kept on sideswiping me. Many people can identify with this story, and it’s worth telling because it was so fast,” says Williamson.
The musical is punctuated by what Williamson calls “raw guttural songs” that she wrote at the time of the events portrayed. She describes the music as “driving alternative rock.”
“This was all originally never meant to be published, to be anything, really,” laughs Williamson. “I wrote it all down at the time it was happening, it was all part of the mending process, I guess. I sent it to a friend who told me I was ‘the worst writer ever,’ but that they couldn’t put the story down!
She committed tale to audio book, and started to place some of the songs she had written in, as well. She was encouraged to put it all together into a musical and produce it herself, so she gouged out the script, fine-tuned the songs, and ended up with what she describes as “this thing.”
This “thing” was presented with the
The Adams Award for best new musical script (previously the Paul O’Sullivan Prize for Musical Theatre) by the Toronto Fringe Festival last November, and is opening at the Fringe Festival next Wednesday, July 3. On Saturday, July 6, a bus is headed to the Festival to take in the show. It’s $50 to ride bus and see the show, but dinner at the Pre-Nup Pub (the name is not a joke) is not included.
The idea of performing a new piece at the Fringe Festival is exciting for Williamson.
“It’s so fast paced and compelling – if I lose the audience it’s my fault. I’m not important in this play – nor is the band – the only thing that’s important is the story.”
Although it’s ostensibly a one-woman show, Williamson will share the stage with Mrs. Torrance – more specifically, with Sarah Fazackerley, whom Williamson describes as “a force” in the show.
Mrs. Torrance was an established presence on the independent Queen West music scene throughout the 1990s. Its members have reunited, adding singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Fazackerley to the mix, providing the soundtrack for this emotionally devastating, sometimes quite funny and ultimately cathartic story.
“The Break-Up Diet” has a seven-show run at Robert Gill Theatre (214 College St., Toronto), July 3 – 14. Dates, show times and bus trip information can be found at www.breakupdiet.ca