Skip To Content

Fringe Festival Preview: Jem Rolls One Man Traffic Jam

By Devan Marr on June 17, 2014

Performance Poetry | 60 minutes

Review By Devan Marr

Editor’s note: For the last five year’s Apartment613 has reviewed every single Ottawa Fringe play in our Fully Fringed initiative. This year we sent Dev Marr to the Montreal Fringe to do a bit of recognisance on some of the plays heading to Ottawa later this week. The Montreal Fringe runs until June 22, while the Ottawa Festival starts this Thursday, June 19. Check out all of Apt613’s reviews here.

You have to suffer for your art. At least, that’s what I took away from Jem Rolls’ latest Fringe production. A veteran of the Fringe circuit, Jem Rolls brings his unique brand of poetry and storytelling to the stage in his piece, Jem Rolls: One Man Traffic Jam.

Jem Rolls is about as high energy as it gets. For sixty minutes the man just does not stop. It’s hard to really say what the show was about because it was about everything and nothing all at the same time. In one section, Jem recounts his life on the Fringe Circuit. He explains the things he’s done to bring us, the (undeserving) audience, some of his experiences. Whether you are in London or Cairo, Jem makes it pretty clear that being stuck on a bus is a pretty terrible experience, but he did it for you. He has experienced it for you, the audience, so you don’t have to.

We should be grateful.

The one man production is a combination of short stories and asides, ranging from his theory that the Fringe Festival is an underground railway for criminals, to the thought that maybe god created Darwin as his alibi for why humanity has its problems. Each one is a little bit silly, a lot fun, and generally entertaining.

Spliced between ridiculous statements such as “the World Bank was created by the Devil” and “I am a one man tropical storm of sweat” is some touching commentary that you’re “never alone with compassion”. Despite a bit of misanthropy, Jem loves humanity and believes that we should love ourselves, despite our need for some serious evolutionary upgrades.

This Jem Rolls’ show is much like all other Jem Rolls’ shows: blink-and-you’ll-miss-it word play and good fun. For the more literary among you, it’s a great show to see. It’s clever, well-written, and definitely worth the price of admission.

That being said, his full speed ahead style can be a little much at times, and Jem’s repetitive word use may not be for everyone. All in all, it is another solid production by the man who brought you how I stopped worrying and learned to love the mall and others.

jem rolls one man traffic jam is playing at the Montreal Fringe at the Montreal Improv Theatre, 3697 Saint Laurent. The next show times are Monday, June 16, at 21:00, Wednesday June 18, at 23:00, Friday June 20, at 18:00, and Saturday June 21, at 21:45.

It will then be playing at the Ottawa Fringe at Venue 5-Odd Box. The show times are Sunday, June 22, at 21:00, Monday, June 23, at 19:00, Wednesday, June 25, at 20:30, Thursday, June 26, at 17:30, Saturday, June 28, at 15:00, and Sunday June 29, at 18:00.