Thursday, September 29, 2011

Review: (Montreal) Adopt This!

Wherein Our Intrepid Critic Gets to See a Show He Really Wanted to See
When real life, comedy and theatre collide
by Gaëtan L. Charlebois

The way the Charlebois Post - Montreal covered the Fringe was by sending each soldier in our small army to a different venue to cover everything there. So, though I saw some great stuff in my venues, I did not get to see Dan Bingham's show which had red-hot buzz and to which our critic gave five charpies out of five (our rating system). When it was announced Bingham was remounting it for five performances, the first tonight, I pulled rank and said I would be reviewing it for the CPC.

I am very glad I have seen this true story - told with simplicity and grace - by a handsome, affable performer used to wall-to-wall laughs who, here, allows silences to linger. It's a brave performance, as is his sharing the tale of his his adoptive parents (monstrous in their own ways) and his search for identity and acceptance The story has moments which are gothic in their detail but which are recounted with a smile that is never too sad (Bingham seems to have put the effects of his hideous childhood behind him).

However, to continue successfully on the journey Bingham has planned for it (the Fringe circuit and beyond), Adopt This! needs two things: a playwright and a director who will slap this into the tautness it requires. The piece is now stuck between theatre and standup and because of that it has a strange lack of propulsion. In the final 15 minutes of its 50, it shows what it might be—a very funny work about rage tamed and the right fork taken on a road that was otherwise headed to a bad, bad life. (Also: it is crucial that Bingham does not send a hapless fellow comic out to warm up the house. He didn't.)

The performer is right. The story is right. But, as pleasant an evening as I spent with Bingham and his saga, the theme that was clearest was this: potential.

Adopt This! is at Theatre Ste-Catherine for five performances only until October 1
Listen to Dan Bingham interviewed in episode 9 of This Is The CPC (also available on iTunes)

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