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Photo: Allan Mackey

Fringe Review: Faris Who Talks to Rats

By Colin Noden on June 16, 2018



Photo: Allan Mackey

Faris Who Talks to Rats
by Allan Mackey
Theatre Underground

60 min / Comedy, Fantasy / PG

Let me set your mind at ease. There are no live rats in this production. I met people all day who were either going or thinking about going, and this was the #1 question/worry. So, no live rats.

That said, the rats who were onstage nearly stole the show several times. A very clever rat thing to do!

The whole play is clever and complex, with subthemes allowing each character a time to shine. But all done in a tongue-in-cheek fun manner. It’s a romp through the classic fairy tale structure: a girl is imprisoned in a mysterious apathy. She is forced out of it by an intervening fairy and begins the hero’s journey. You can fill in the blanks.

Her adventure becomes our adventure as the performance crosses the stage boundaries. Something various audience members were happy to encourage. It must be a Fringe Festival thing. It sure kept us alert and solved the mystery as to why we were encouraged to pack in the front rows (they used the old “best spot for air-conditioning” ploy).

Tongue-in-cheek with running gags and a fast pace make this a fun experience. Even the set transition music was funny with previous scene sampling mixed in with a laid-back beat.

The story ends in a classic manner. The heroine returns empowered and transformed. The fairies may or may not have been real.

The rats remain a mystery.

There is one technical note I should mention. The theatre is said to be Ottawa’s oldest performance space. So, seeing a play there is special in itself. But the theatre sucks up sound. And the pace of the show is quite fast. The actors will have to concentrate on projection. It’s another reason for sitting in that front row if your hearing is not great.

Faris Who Talks to Rats is playing at Academic Hall (133 Séraphin-Marion) until Sunday June 24, 2018. Tickets cost $12. Visit for the schedule and box office info. Read more reviews at