Monday, December 4, 2023

Fringe Review: The 70 Mile Yard Sale (Tales from Island Boy Public Journal)

Who: Island Boy Public Journal
What: The 70 Mile Yard Sale
Length: 60 minutes
Where: Mosaic (431 Barton Street East)
When: July 21-31 as part of the Hamilton Fringe Festival
Tickets: $12 + $1.75 fee at

Sometimes, when you set out to look for something, you end up finding a whole lot more than you planned to. Tales from Island Boy Public Journal is all about these unexpected discoveries, and how the strangest things can happen at — or because of — a yard sale.

Justin Shaw brings a friendly, energetic style of storytelling to his performance. He never misses a beat, and yet never seems to go too quickly either. He delivers wit and humour without ever coming across as mean-spirited, and has the audience laughing every time. Watching him perform feels like sitting down with a long-time friend, swapping stories over lunch or dinner.

Although the show starts off by referencing Hamilton and the surrounding area, most of the stories are centred around Shaw’s home province of Prince Edward Island. The change of topic is subtle enough that it doesn’t interrupt the flow, and the stories he tells of the island feature a broad range of people and objects. So too are the stories diverse in tone- from strange and amusing to inspirational and heartwarming.

Antiques are a recurring element in the show, as is the idea of finding things that are more than — or different than — what you’d originally gone looking for. Whether they’re old or new, foreign or familiar, strange or mundane, they always come as a surprise. And no matter who or what the story is about, it always manages to keep you engaged, and it always flows easily into the next story. At 60 minutes it’s longer than some other shows, but the stories you’ll hear are well worth an hour of your time.

Arthur Bullock
Arthur Bullock
Arthur Bullock is a graduate of McMaster University, Mohawk College and Algonquin College. He's spent nearly all his life in Hamilton, and has been reviewing plays at the Fringe since 2015. He has a passion for writing of all kinds, and loves to combine that with a longtime interest in local theatre.

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