Fringe 2019 Review: 'T.J. Dawe: Operatic Panic Attack'


Canadian storyteller T.J. Dawe is one of the most popular frequent presenters at the Orlando Fringe for very good reason, and this year he’s making another welcome return with Operatic Panic Attack, his newest autobiographical monologue that connects his love of Verdi with his crippling anxiety disorder. Like many of T.J.'s tales, this one starts in medias res and ricochets back in forth through time, from his formative years as a Quadrophenia-obsessed altar boy to his university-age struggles as a sexually repressed supernumerary.

While this is an original script, it draws on several stories that longtime Dawe followers will find familiar, recasting them in a new context. T.J. is always intellectually engaging to listen to, whether he’s waxing eloquent about the subtle genius of the Marx Brothers, or horror-movie elements of the Holy Week Mass. But this time, he really opens up to the audience about some deeply personal problems, and he doesn’t have any easy, uplifting solutions to soothe us with.

As a brand-new work, Operatic Panic Attack isn’t yet as polished as some of Dawe’s earlier hits; it takes about 15 minutes to find its footing, and doesn’t really address the titular topic until almost 45 minutes in. But mid-range T.J. is still better than 90% of the solo shows on the circuit, so new and old fans alike will want to jump aboard this fast-moving memory train.

TJ Dawe: Operatic Panic Attack
Rapid Fire Theatre
Vancouver British Columbia
Ages 13 and up
75 minutes
Wednesday, May 15th 6:45 PM
Sunday, May 19th 4:00 PM
Tuesday, May 21st 5:45 PM
Thursday, May 23rd 8:00 PM
Saturday, May 25th 7:00 PM
Sunday, May 26th 11:00 AM 

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