Fringe review: ‘Fear Factor: Canine Edition’

Fear Factor: Canine Edition, John Grady, New York, NY. Pink venue, 55 minutes, $10.

By Elizabeth Maupin
Elizabeth Maupin on Theater

John Grady and Abby

John Grady is comfortable with silence.

In his solo Fringe show — a show that is both lovely and mesmerizing — Grady makes the most of the pauses between sentences, of the stillness that stands for thoughtfulness and allows the audience to keep up emotionally with the grueling journey Grady takes.

It’s not the kind of journey implied by the title Fear Factor: Canine Edition, although a dog named Abby is a crucial part of Grady’s story and his experience is certainly guided by fear.

Grady, a New York actor who has worked on TV, in off-Broadway theater and for eight years as a performer in Blue Man Group, tells the story of his devotion to Abby, a 13-year-old Bernese mountain dog, who is feeling her years at the start of the show. Fear Factor: Canine Edition is a testament to a noble animal, but it’s even more a testament to the relationship between Grady and Abby during the time when he’s facing the impossible decision to have her put down.

Yet the show is not a depressing one: Grady uses his stillness to punctuate some very funny moments — the experience of taking Abby to doggie yoga, the debate between him and a gorgeous girlfriend over whether she or Abby comes first. All the while you feel the choice he’s facing, and you grow to understand not that Abby is a special animal (although she clearly is kind and intelligent) but that the bond between her and her caretaker is special to them both.

Most animal lovers will understand and cherish every bit of Grady’s experience, which makes for a very moving piece of theater. And I suspect they’ll do just what I did: They’ll go home and give their own furry companions an extra snoosh between the ears.

Remaining shows:
Monday May 23, 6:05 p.m.
Wednesday May 25, 9:30 p.m.
Friday May 27, 11 p.m.
Saturday May 28, 1:10 p.m.
Sunday May 29, 3:50 p.m.

3 responses to “Fringe review: ‘Fear Factor: Canine Edition’

  1. Meghan Moroney

    I LOVED this show. Lovely story to tell, and stunningly told … not a wasted bit of movement, or beat. PLEASE see this show … .he is so deserving of an audience!

  2. Wonderful show! Poignant, thoughtful and witty.
    Great review, Elizabeth. Spot on.

  3. The review is spot on. The only thing I would add is that I am not a “dog person” per se and I loved this show immensely and found that it touched on some beautiful, universal truths. A fun, funny ride that unexpectedly hits you in the gut.

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