Fringe Review: A solo show on the world of knives, “Edging with Mike” cuts through Fringe as a breath of fresh air


Mike O’Brien
Photographer: Martin Gauthier

Mike O’Brien knows way too much about steel, and now, I do too. 

Edging with Mike, directed by Bruce Lambie, written and performed by Mike O’Brien, really is a show about… Edging. Sharpening a knife’s edge. I honestly thought with such a provocative title, the show would delve into more serious content, but no, really, this is a show about sharpening knives. In a noisy festival, Edging with Mike’s simplicity is a breath of fresh air.

Upon entering the venue, audiences are greeted with an engaging setup: knives, tools (that are yet to be explained), and a laptop connected to a projector. A simple slideshow was used as an effective visual to O’Brien’s performance. 

O’Brien starts off with a disclaimer about himself: his mind, his likes and dislikes, and an introduction to the world of knives. With a very natural charisma, spectators immediately fall down O’Brien’s rabbit hole. We venture through various topics like different knives, different techniques for sharpening, different materials, reasons for why the obsession exists, quotes, sources, and much more. All of this seems to be a vehicle to get to know O’Brien better, and how his mind works (two philosophy degrees!). I feel like if I were to strike up a conversation with him, I’d know exactly what to talk about. 

Mike O’Brien
Photographer: Martin Gauthier

Have you ever clicked on a link online, which lead to a wikipedia page, which lead to a few others, which lead to Reddit or Imgur, and eventually Youtube? O’Brien did, and his script reflects that with natural transitions between intricate topics, as well as visuals showcasing anything from mathematical equations to 18th century philosophers. The use of the projector and slideshow allows the audience to venture into what the performer sees, how he is influenced. Again, the simplicity of this device is very effective. We get taken along into his journey of falling down the online rabbit hole.

The script is precise, quirky, funny, and written with a very “real” voice. I wasn’t sure if he was actually reciting from a script until he forgot his lines. Luckily, the entire script was stuck up on a wall next to him. A few stumbles, but swiftly back on track. Funnily enough, it didn’t read so much as ‘forgetting lines’ but rather ‘losing his train of thought’. The solo performance sounded so genuine, and the performer is so fascinated by the topic, that I could have been convinced there was no script, and O’Brien was just talking about a couple of topics he enjoys. 

What I like most about the show is its simplicity. I don’t have to be aware of current issues, I don’t have to subscribe to a fantastical universe with way too many backstories, I don’t need to feel sad or guilty or delve deeper into anything. It’s a simple show about knives, and science. It’s witty and not too long. I wasn’t aware that a world of knife fanatics existed, but I could see how its a very engaging and calming hobby. Occasionally however, the stumbling of lines or the repetitive structure of the show would have me tune out momentarily. 

I learned a lot about knives, steel, sharpening techniques, philosophers, and businessmen. I learned what Mike O’Brien’s search history is probably filled with. This is a quick, calm show that is worth checking out, especially if you love knives. It plays almost like an ASMR video. This is a show for all ages, anyone who wants to learn something new, or delve into simpler subject matter.

Cynical Dog Productions presents “Edging with Mike”
at the 29th St-Ambroise Montreal Fringe Festival

Performances: June 7 – 15, 2019
Venue: 03 – Le P’tit Impro
3713 Saint-Laurent #202, Montréal, H2X 2V7
Admission: $8
Box Office:
514.849.FEST (3378)

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Rahul Gandhi

Theatre Reviewer at Montreal Theatre Hub
Rahul Gandhi is an independent artist and Montreal based actor and director. Recent credits include Rafi in Centaur Legacy series' "What Rough Beast" and Fourteen in Concordia University's "Animals in Paradise". As a recent graduate from Concordia University's Acting for the Theatre, Rahul is ready to stumble blindly into the real world. As an artist, he is thrilled to be working with Montreal Theatre Hub again to watch, offer insight into, and review some of the wonderful experiences the Montreal Fringe has to offer. Catch him in "The Peers" by Infemous. @raulgeendee
Rahul Gandhi

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