Sweet and Chill: ‘Blueberry Fever’

Poster for 'Blueberry Fever'. 
An image of blue frozen yogurt is against an orange background. 
Text reads: "A New Play Created By Karina Milech & Ben Jensen-Reid
Blueberry Fever"

Life is rife with heartache, but Blueberry Fever is ripe with humour. Created by Karina Milech and Ben Jensen-Reid, this contemporary show about nothing follows a small group of friends as they navigate adulthood in Toronto. 

The play opens with a montage of scenes set to a song—it’s bass-heavy and sexy, with a silky alto voice carrying the melody. It feels like a sitcom intro—one I wouldn’t ever want to skip. This montage serves as a quick way to offer up some exposition and to introduce the energetic cast of four before diving into a dialogue-heavy show. 

Lyla (Yasmine Jones) is an actor who doesn’t want to call herself an artist. She drinks wine too early in the day and goes out in her pyjamas. Sam (Rebecca Lee) craves frozen yogurt in the dead of winter and asks too many questions about Lyla’s sexuality. Joelle (Jamie Galbraith) has a wife, a child, and a growing suspicion that things aren’t okay. Together, they joke about everything from eczema to the Miss Universe “France!” meme, argue about where Lyla parked the car, and try their best to care for each other while not always understanding each other’s lives. 

Jarena Lee weaves between scenes, appearing as the cute but depressed-seeming froyo shop manager Michelle, Michelle’s dog, Blueberry, and Joelle’s partner, Maya. Lee’s energy is infectious, and she thrives in moments of comedy, getting the audience’s biggest laughs. The other actors have multiple cameos, too—the funniest one is when Rebecca Lee and Jamie Galbraith pop up as ice sculptures at the park where Lyla and Michelle go on their first date. 

The central characters are well-written and the dialogue only occasionally gives the impression of veering into overt playwright-working-through-some-feelings territory (and who doesn’t have a soft spot for that, anyway?). Rebecca Lee gives some of the most grounded, convincing line delivery as Sam, and she especially thrives in moments of tension when sparks are about to fly. Jones is spirited and loveable in the role of Lyla, and she also makes a hilarious appearance as a caller on a radio show later on in the play. Galbraith plays the codependent worrier to perfection, breaking down beautifully and drawing genuine laughs: “Can we please have your pity party when we’re at least finished with mine?!”

Like the perfect frozen yogurt, Blueberry Fever is sweet, but not too sweet. In the final scene, the dynamic between Lyla, Sam, and Joelle clicks so well that I was disappointed the play had to end so soon. If I had it my way, Blueberry Fever would be a syndicated sitcom that I could binge to my heart’s content. As it is, I’m glad I got to taste this sample-sized Fringe show before it melts in the summer heat.

‘Blueberry Fever’ is playing at the Kingston Grand Theatre’s Davies Lounge in the TK Fringe Festival until August 7th, 2023. Find more information and tickets here.

This article was edited on December 1st, 2023 to update formatting.