Fringe 2015 Review: The Untitled Sam Mullins Project17 July 2015 / by Jacob Dubé (author)
At the centre of the stage of the grand Factory Theatre in Toronto, under just one spotlight, was a lone barstool. Along with his voice and movements, this was all Sam Mullins needed to capture the audience and bring them into the world of his Fringe play, The Untitled Sam Mullins Project.
Mullins enters the scene and, without waiting for introductory applause, jumps right into the tale of his trip to a workshop for stand-up comedians, where an Ace-Ventura-looking instructor tells them to write down four universal truths. While the rest of the class writes about airline food and cats, Mullins writes about embarrassment, love, the fleetingness of life, and panic. For each of these truths, Mullins tells a story pertaining to their ongoing connection with his life.
Previously appearing on the popular radio doc This American Life, Mullins has cemented himself as a master storyteller. His voice fills the empty space of the room as he clearly sets the tones and emotions of the crowd. He transitions from the funny and lighthearted tale of theatre makeup gone horribly wrong to recalling the night he got his heart broken nine minutes before performing on stage effortlessly. Not a minute goes by that he doesn’t have the audience right in his pocket.
What makes The Untitled Sam Mullins Project special is that by the end of it, you realize that Mullins is performing it more for himself than for the crowd, as a sort of introspective healing. It feels as though the audience is his personal journal that he pours himself into. That extra layer of intimacy makes this a play that’s very hard to forget.