Sunday, June 17, 2012

Reviews: Glimpses of the Montreal Fringe

Butt Kapinski, Private Eye
reviewed by by Chad Dembski

A film noir clown show (improvised?) by American Deanna Fleysher (from Hollywood appropriately) that attempts to solve a murder that has just occurred.  A show with a massive amount of audience participation, (all 10 of us had to participate at least two or three times) that will  be a thrill for some or a nightmare for others.  The show quickly derails and seems beset with massive technical flaws that seemed to be - possibly - part of the act but I was never quite sure.  Still the plot (which goes in every direction) is not the point of the show, it is the relationship between the buffoon clown Butt Lapinski and the various audience members.  I was surprised how good natured and willing to play along everyone in the house was and that seemed to help keep the show afloat.  I imagine a much larger audience would provide a more interesting dynamic for the audience members who do not want to participate (which included myself).  Still Deanna Fleysher is a fantastic improviser who has a lot of charm and who seems to revel in the awkward and bizarre banter between her and the audience.  So if you want to be part of a Fringe show and enjoy participating onstage this show is for you, if not you may find this uncomfortable and hard to get through. 

She Has a Name
reviewed by Estelle Rosen

If you think Canada is immune to human trafficking, you only have to recall the recent story of young girls in Ottawa accused of forcing teens into prostitution.

Playwright Andrew Kooman commented that justice can only be realized if people become aware and take action. Telling stories is one way. She Has A Name attempts to accomplish this by portraying the brutal world of human trafficking. Director Stephen Waldschmidt suggests in his Director’s Notes to let this play have its way with you; let in the story. It had its way with me.

Jason (Carl Kennedy) is a Canadian investigator who poses as a customer in the brothel where 15-year old Number 18 (Evelyn Chew) is a sex slave. Jason is determined to build a case against the brothel, and get her out of there. I liked that it’s not a play where everything is wrapped up nice and neat at the end. 

Solid performances, especially Carl Kennedy and Evelyn Chew. 

A powerful, haunting theatre piece. 

 reviewed by Rebecca Ugolini

Greek tragedy probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the words “Fringe Festival”, but Oimoi’s production of Euripides’ classic tragedy Hippolytus is anything but traditional. Translators Carina de Klerk and Lynn Kozak’s  modern English version of the play meets with an eclectic soundtrack including electronic music custom-made by Virek (Nick Donaldson), a mini-drag show by Antonio Bavaro’s alter-ego Connie Lingua (as Aphrodite), and rap/spoken-word performance by Lindsay Wilson (as The Chorus). Supported by the play’s cast of seriously talented actors, these modifications are welcome variations on some old themes: lust, shame, and fate.
The plot is familiar enough: tempted by the Aphrodite’s (Bavaro/Connie Lingua) charms, queen Phaidra (Johanna Nutter) becomes sexually obsessed with her husband’s illegitimate son Hippolytos (Aaron Golish). She confesses her passion to her Nurse (Diana Fajrajsl), who complicates matters by telling Hippolytos of his step-mother’s passion and swearing him to secrecy. In panic and terror, Phaidra takes her own life and accuses Hippolytos of rape in a suicide note. When Theseus (Donovan Reiter) discovers his dead wife, he exiles his son and damns him to death. Theseus soon gets his wish, and all too early, as Artemis (Elisabeth Gill) reveals Hippolytos’ innocence.
Hippolytos boasts so many great actors that it’s difficult to know where to start. Fajrajsl charmed the audience and played both the comedic and the dramatic extremes of her character with equal care and believability. Nutter showcased the magnetic stage presence for which she is loved by so many, seducing the crowd as she told the tale—and suffered the pains—of her own seduction tale. Bavaro was a riot and a delight in the role of both host and actress, and one of Hippolytos’ great joys is checking back to Aphrodite’s reactions to the action centre-stage. Golish’s intense facial expressions and eloquent and beautiful diction manage both his character’s flippant, sarcastic side, as well as his chaste and honourable one, and played nicely in contrast to Reiter’s brash, yet vulnerable, and absolutely heartbreaking Theseus. 
The electronic music in Hippolytos enhances the theme of losing self-control in erotic or stimulating situations, and Wilson’s sung, rapped and spoken Chorus lines are unexpected and fresh. Hippolytos is so well-cast that even the Messenger (Lewis Innes-Miller) manages to stick in viewer’s minds as though he has sixty minutes of stage time. Innes-Miller’s delivery of the Messenger’s speech describing Hippolytos’ death is visceral and memorable. And after sitting nearly motionless on-stage during the entire duration of the show and straight through intermission, Gill brings the statue of Artemis which she embodies to life as a sorrowful goddess with a quiet rage in her (a little too quiet) voice. 
The only thing which would benefit Hippolytos is a more carefully-curated costume department. Although eclectic is the word of the hour, the costumes seem to belong to too many different styles to create an overall sense of aesthetic unity in the play.

Soul Time
reviewed by Gaƫtan L. Charlebois

An alien (ie: Martian) talks at us about time for 25 minutes. That is the subject: time. No great profundities are revealed. Partway through the alien tells us that her time on earth is limited and, "I'm not sure I'm going to make it through the 30-minute [sic] encounter with you." Nor was I. This is standard-issue, blackbox solo indulgence (there's another term for that) whose sole uniqueness is that it is performed by a woman of a certain age, Morel D'Amour. SPOILER ALERT! At the end she tells us that she has heard that on our planet we clap at the end of shows. She asks us not to, to maintain a silence, and to, instead, go home, look in the mirror and clap for ourselves. I don't know about the mirror bit; for the rest of her requests, though, the audience obliged.

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