Fringe 2019: Edging with Mike at Le P’tit Impro

Edging With Mike is not quite what you would expect given the title. Upon entering the intimate space of Le P’tit Impro, you see a kind-looking, unassuming man behind a work station, diligently and patiently sharpening a knife. That is Mike. Mike likes to sharpen knives, and also likes to talk about the things he likes.

This piece was a slightly autobiographical, earnest lecture on the art of knife sharpening – an art which is perhaps more richly complex than you may have considered. It was also a tangential exploration of optical lenses and various lesser known historical figures. In a sense, it was one man’s adventure down a Wikipedia rabbit hole. But not just any man, a man with 2 philosophy degrees, a plethora of patience and an incredible attention to detail. Overall, the result was interesting and educational, especially if you are fond of academia as well as theatre.

Mike discussed in depth how one sharpens a knife with precision, the different methods and tools available, and even a bit about the culture that exists around knife ownership. He demonstrated how to properly use a wet stone, and how different grades represent different goals and therefore require different techniques. It was fascinating. He also had an accompanying power point presentation, which added a charming touch of silliness to the show while engaging the audience into further understanding his thesis.

Mike was able to present his topic while being funny, engaging, incredibly genuine, and, not to sound condescending, but also very cute. His energy was consistent and calm, and his voice and the way he spoke was very soothing. His humour was at times somewhat self deprecating, but in a good humoured, self-aware way rather, than a harmful one. I think that the highest praise that I can give Mike for this unconventional fringe lecture, is this: Mike is the Bob Ross of knife sharpening.