Sunday, June 30, 2013

Sunday Feature: Benjamin Wert on This Prison (Fringe: Toronto, Winnipeg, Edmonton)

Making a set important in a Fringe show is a job
by Benjamin Wert

Theatre of the Beat will be performing 'This Prison Or: He Came Through the Floor' at the Toronto, Winnipeg and Edmonton Fringes. Theatre of the Beat is a traveling theatre troupe that has been performing together since 2011. They just finished a 33-venue tour of 'Forgiven/Forgotten', performing the play from Ontario to Alberta in theatres, churches, high schools, and prisons. 

What do most traveling fringe shows have in common? Most have no set, or something small... nothing fancy, just something you can pack in a suitcase and take on the road. Most have a small cast and crew, many are solo operations. You don't want to have to feed too many mouths on fringe bucks and travel can get cramped when you get too many in the van.

Last year, Theatre of the Beat performed Gadfly at the Montreal, Edmonton and Vancouver Fringe festivals. We had a compact set made out of a folding table and a bunch of milk crates, with a cast and crew of five.

This year, we've downsized cast and crew to three, but we've certainly gotten ambitious with the set. 

Sunday Feature: Jessica Moss of Polly Polly (Fringe: Toronto)

Everything is Something.
by Jessica Moss

It’s that feeling. Panic coupled with exhilaration. Like a small, hefty weight directly on the sternum, it doesn’t stop your forward momentum but it does make you feel each breath expanding against your chest and the increasingly rapid ‘thump thump’ of your heart. It feels like living, but it also feels suspiciously like dying. 

Ah, the Fringe.

I’m deeply in love with the Toronto Fringe Festival, and the Fringe movement as a whole. It makes me feel something I can’t get anywhere else, and makes me proud and happy to have spent so much of my life hiding in theatres, trying to be a part of this world. It’s so much fun, so frantic, it all seems perfectly natural and recklessly fun to have a beer at noon and see a play at midnight. In an alley. Starring puppets made of garbage. There’s a madness to Fringe, and I think that madness allows for some really great theatre to happen.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

The Devil's Advocate, Question #2

Space Cadets?

(see all Devil's Advocate Topics so far)

In many countries, the state acquires venues which might be converted into theatre spaces. In Canada, "found spaces" like Espace Go's original mechanic's garage and Mainline's strange walkup continue to dot the landscape. But, often, the spaces are uncomfortable, have hideous bathroom facilities, lousy parking and absolutely nothing to draw a spectator beyond the play. (And as one pundit once told us: people don't always remember a play, but they remember a great parking space.) Scratch a Canadian theatre practitioner and you get complaints about lack of small and mid-size venues. However, many companies are banding together to create real spaces like Maison Théâtre (a YPT venue) in Montreal and La Nouvelle Scène, shared by four companies in Ottawa. So what's the problem? 

Do Canadian companies lack imagination or wherewithal when it comes to venues?

creating a/broad, June 29, 2013

by Cameryn Moore

Today is a bad day, and I don’t think coffee will help, although I’m waiting for the cup to drip right now and I’m willing for it to work. It feels so bad that I am getting tired of being on the inside of my own head. I can’t even bring myself to listen to the mental echoes of my own spiraling funk, so I sure as shit don’t want to inflict it on you.

I don’t want to write about how very homesick I feel for Montreal—which is only two hours away, for fuck’s sake!—or how tired I am of this air mattress. I don’t want to say how much I miss my lovers. I don’t want to write about how I fucked up my hosting duties last night and angered a fellow artist. And I certainly don’t want to write about this fundraiser show that I’m supposed to be participating in tonight, the theme of which is FRIGHT, and the only thing I can think is, I’m afraid I don’t have anything for this show, and I’m debating whether I should just pull out. (I did pull out of the show. I needed a mental-health day like WHOA.)

Theatre For Thought, June 29, 2013

joel fishbane

Full disclosure: performer Devon Tullock is one of my oldest friends. A few lifetimes ago, we attended theatre school together and at the end of our second year, I went off to study playwriting while he went to Germany to appear in the German production of Cats. Now, 16 years later, Tullock is tackling Cats again, this time in the Toronto revival – and once again he’s playing the magical Mr. Mistoffoles. 

“When they asked me, I said yes and my hips immediately started hurting,” Tullock laughed during our reunion at a coffee shop just steps from the Panasonic Theatre, where Cats will run until September. The Toronto revival of Cats is produced by Nu Musical Theatricals and an army of other producers, including the folks at Mirvish. A spectacle to end spectacles, its score is a catalogue of catchy songs set to the poems found in T.S. Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats. 

Friday, June 28, 2013

News: Factory Theatre Announces Construction Start (Press release)

Review: (Ottawa) My Second Smile (Fringe)

Celebration of Life
by Jim Murchison

Noah Spitzer is mature beyond his years. I guess that’s what happens when you face cancer at the age of 16, are told it’s probably nothing and then survive it. No that’s too weak. He celebrates it. This is not to say that he is happy he got cancer but he is a whirlwind of happiness now, not just a survivor.

He dances like the wind, he is hilarious in the way he portrays other people’s reaction to the big C. He also shows the sad side of loss but ultimately comes around to: we’re all going to die, live while you can. There are so many layers to this young man’s performance. He is a poster boy for life, not for cancer and he is joy unleashed on the stage.

I flat out loved this show! 

runtime: approximately 60 minutes with no intermission
My Second Smile is at the Ottawa Fringe

Review: (Ottawa) Innocent When You Dream (Fringe)

A Tale in a Whale
by Jim Murchison

Zeb L West combines puppetry, music, sight gags and puns along with some truly good observations on life in general, this is a quirky storytelling charmer, where Jonah gets swallowed by a whale and lives in its belly with only two books and some crackers. The books are Moby Dick and Don Quixote and he assumes the characters of each.

Review: (Ottawa) Prince of Denmark (Fringe)

Hamlet: The Wonder Years
by Jim Murchison

So before Hamlet pondered whether to be or not to be he was already wondering whether the whole Prince thing was working for him. There are some things young Hamlet likes about being Prince. He likes the fact that no one can disagree with him because of the whole treason thing. You get to win every argument or duel you ever have. 

He also is quite smitten with the young Ophelia, but then again who isn’t. The bumbling Osric is infatuated totally and Laertes seems more than protective of his sister.

Review: (Ottawa) 9 fragments (Fringe)

Who Knew Fragments Could Be So Beautiful?
by Robyn Lester

This incredible solo piece is well worth your time and money.

Now, I must admit that much of the content went over my head.  I’m not familiar with Sappho, or her work, and was a little lost in the subject matter.  If this were any other show, it would have probably tarnished my enjoyment of the production.  But with 9 fragments, the show could have been in a different language and I still would have enjoyed it.  Yes, some background knowledge would have added to it, but it didn’t change the fact that this performance was absolutely awe-inspiring.  

Review: (Vancouver) Avenue Q

Rod (photo by Emily Cooper)
"A" For Amazing
by Jay Catterson

Avenue Q, the hit Broadway puppet musical (think Sesame Street for adults) that rightfully snatched the 2003 Tony for Best Musical away from Wicked, finally arrives on the Arts Club Granville Island Stage. And boy, has it arrived! Now if you're wondering what the 'Q' in Avenue Q stands for, I can tell you this: Quality. This locally produced production has the look, feel and sound of a top-notch off-Broadway show; a treatment that this gem of a show truly deserves. (It's truly fitting, since Avenue Q had its fortuitous birth off-Broadway, and successfully moved back off-Broadway after its Broadway run ended in 2009.)

Review: (Ottawa) Matchstick (Fringe)

The Journey is Never What You Expect
by Robyn Lester

I can’t say enough about Matchstick.  It is an absolute must-see. 

This wasn’t initially on my list to watch.  But thanks to in-line promotion, I was talked into checking it out.  And thank goodness, because I would have hated to miss out on such a fantastic experience.
It’s hard to know where to start—but I can tell you, it will all be praise.  So you may as well stop reading now, and just go reserve your tickets.

Review: (Ottawa) Never Fall in Love With a Writer

Structure isn't Everything
by Robyn Lester

Written by Sterling Lynch, this one-woman play centres on a woman’s relationship with a writer.  Jennifer Capogreco does an excellent job playing the four different characters; Grace, Samuel, Amy, and James.   It is also worth noting that the script was written clearly enough that the characters were easily distinguishable from one another—a very important thing when it comes to a one person show.  

A Fly on The Wall, June 28, 2013

Smells Like Fringe Spirit
by Jim Murchison 

There are a lot of things that happen at the Fringe Festival that happen around it and not at the venues themselves. When an actor broke his leg and all the performances of Be A Man at the Ottawa Fringe had to be cancelled, all the Fringe performers got together to brainstorm on how to make some extra money to get them back and came up with an idea to do a story slam. 

The Best of Real Theatre - Fringe Edition

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Review: (Ottawa) Moby Dick (Fringe)

A Tale of A Whale
by Jim Murchison 

Call me Ishmael. I imagine a lot of people know that that is the opening line of Herman Melville’s classic story Moby Dick. Dean Verger does a recitation or adaptation of the story. Maritime ambiance is provided by accompanist Duncan Gillis, a maritime name if I’ve ever heard one. He plays lute and tin whistles or similar wind instruments and it’s a nice touch. 

Review: (Ottawa) Cathedral City (Fringe)

Crazy Journey To The Promised Land 
by Jim Murchison 

Brooklyn actor Kurt Fitzpatrick will tell everyone at the festival that this is an international production because it is directed by Alison Cousins who is from Ottawa. He is half right because the play is more than that. It is universal because some of the characters are out of this world.

Review: (Ottawa) The Vanity Project (Fringe)

The Narcissus Conundrum
by Robyn Lester

Sometimes the story isn’t what we’ve been told.  That seems to be the prevailing theme in The Vanity Project, a musical retelling of the story of Narcissus.  A musical retelling that also tries to warn us against the risks of being too pre-occupied with ourselves.  A pertinent message given today’s cultural trend towards announcing everything we do.   
There are two things working against me as I write this review.  For starters, I’ve never reviewed a musical.  Second, the majority of musicals I’ve been exposed to have all been high-budget Broadway productions.  So I had to keep my expectations in check while watching Tim Oberholzer’s musical.

Review: (Ottawa) Barely Even There (Fringe)

Love Lost to the Work Cellphone
by Jim Murchison

Barely Even There has some good music and a theme of love fading as the competing pressures of providing interfere with the simple joys of the family; the alienation of wife and daughter overwhelm a husband and father to the point where all three feel under-appreciated or ignored. 

Review: (Ottawa) Botched (Fringe)

Honest, Sad…and Whimsical?
by Robyn Lester

Tonight is your last chance to check out Botched, a dark comedy written by Colleen Osborn.

This is yet another play I could spend days analyzing.  I found it rather progressive in that it didn’t really buy into the polarized debate on abortion.  It’s not for, or against.  Instead it seems to express that there is no right answer.  No perfect solution.  

It’s odd to use this word given the subject matter, but the play had a whimsical feel to it.  The set consisted of a room scattered with toys, games, and dolls.  A space that looked as if it belonged to a child.  But it actually belonged to an 18-year old.  Our protagonist.  A young woman who survived a botched abortion as a fetus.

Book Excerpt: The Beast Without by Christian Baines

The Beast Without
by Christian Baines

[We are very pleased to be offering another book excerpt from a work by a Canadian theatre writer, in this case, our Toronto Associate Editor, Christian Baines]

Set against the dark backdrop of Sydney’s supernatural underworld, The Beast Without is the story of Reylan, a secure and successful vampire, and Jorgas, the murderous young werewolf who crosses his path. Initially determined to track down the beast, Reylan soon finds there’s more to this werewolf than a body count and a bad attitude. And what evolves between them may be far more dangerous than some rival predator in the dark...

I checked every side street on the way home, determined to find some lost soul either coming off a night on the booze, or with no place to go, looking for someone to take away the pain. Soon enough, I realized that I was being stalked. Faint, awkward footsteps, failing dismally in their attempt to remain silent. That at least ruled out the Cloak Walker, who’d never have been so careless. I slowed a little to inspect the streets around me, but it was mainly for show. The footsteps were clearly behind me, and they’d gotten louder. Then came the subtle, familiar odour of that greasy hair. I couldn’t believe it.
Jorgas screeched as I rounded on him and pinned his human body against the wall. His clothes were fresher this time and he smelled marginally better, but there was no hiding that obnoxious sneer.

Picture of the Week, June 27, 2013

The reviews are virtually unanimously positive about the Shaw Festival's production of Wilde's Lady Windermere's Fan and you won't find many of them which do not mention the breath-taking loveliness of the production. That is more than evident in this glorious photo by Emily Cooper of Patrick McManus and Sharry Flett. The palette is damn near perfect, and the pose of the actors is like a Rossetti or Sargent painting (which is no coincedence as director Peter Hinton was reportedly inspired by art of the period).

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Review: (Ottawa) The Show Must Go On (Fringe)

Quest for Perfection
by Jim Murchison 

Jeff Leard got his first paying gig in travelling children's theatre and how that experience challenged him and taught him is the source of an entertaining play about the pitfalls of life on the road. The simple challenge is, “Get through the entire tour without cancelling a show.” At times there are delightful surprises but more often than not it is hard work that can be exhausting and even dangerous.

Review: (Ottawa) The Pit (Fringe)

Bare Bones
by Jim Murchison

The set for The Pit is the stage floor. The bed, the babbling brook, the delicious berry bush and the ominous pit threatening to swallow our heroes and civilization as we know it is all in the minds of the actors and the audience. London, Ontario actor Martin Dockery wrote the piece which he performs with Vanessa Quesnelle.

Review: (Ottawa) Emissions - a Climate Comedy (Fringe)

Using Laughter to Explore Human Nature and Climate Change
by Robyn Lester
From the title, I expected this production to be a preachy lesson in environmentalism thinly veiled in comedy.  However, it wasn’t quite like that.  Thank goodness.  Because there is nothing more annoying than someone using guilt tactics in order to make you change—a theme that Emissions: A Climate Comedy actually explores in one of its series of six vignettes.  

In a Word...Lorenzo Pagnotta on Making Love With Espresso (Toronto Fringe)

(Photo by Dahlia Katz)

Juggling Identities
by Gaëtan L. Charlebois

Lorenzo Pagnotta has taught drama workshops to both seniors and youth in community centers throughout Montreal and Toronto. Projects include performing the title role in a comical adaptation of Hamlet which toured throughout southern Italy (Teatromania); playing a variety of characters in classroom settings as an actor simulator (Ryerson’s Interpersonal Skills Training Centre); and working as a production assistant on Like an Old Tale (Jumblies Theatre) and Obeah Opera (bcurrent Performing Arts / Theatre Archipelago). He has completed an MA in Italian Studies at McGill University, specializing in contemporary Italian theatre, and holds a BA in Drama and Italian Studies from the University of Alberta. (Source: My Entertainment World)

CHARPO: The balancing act between our ethnic heritage and sexuality is always a difficult one. First tell me about what it's like to be Queer in your community. Then, a little about your personal experience.
PAGNOTTA: To be honest, I don’t feel like I have ever been Queer in my ethnic community, which is part of the sentiment that this piece was created with and about. This is ironic because I have been studying Italian language and literature my whole life.  I don’t think this is a negative reflection of the Italian-Canadian community’s attitudes, though I can, certainly, say that I have never been made to feel included as a Queer man.  I, simply, have not had an entry point as I have always been an “academic” or a “theatre creator” and neither of those have seemed to be compatible endeavors for the types of activities that most Italian-Canadians engage in. And people don’t like to bring things up that make them uncomfortable (however wrong that may be) like who you sleep with and what it’s like to have a same sex partner. So you are left figuring it all out on your own.  It has always been important for me to acknowledge that sometimes we project our own negative experiences and/or insecurities onto the environments we trod in. But knowing that does not seem to have offered me total relief (and freedom to say what I need to say at all costs).  As an artist that combines Italian language, characters, and stories into my otherwise “Canadian” work, and now Queer focused work, it’s important that I feel safe and respected artistically within my cultural community?  Is that possible? Initially I was terrified at having to deal with this question.  Now it’s what I am excited to find out?

Video of the Week, June 26, 2013

There is something very charming about the two goofs in this video for Happiness™ now playing the Ottawa Fringe... but watch it carefully. The vid is also pretty damn sinister.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Review: (Ottawa) We Glow (Fringe)

Corporate Politics of the Bottom Line
by Jim Murchison

Brad Long and Emily Pearlman write and perform this piece which has been crisply directed by Kevin Orr. We Glow is performed in The Senate Room at Ottawa University and is the most uniquely staged production at the festival - being performed entirely in a Boardroom where a results-driven husband and wife team are fighting to retain or regain their status as cornerstones in the company. A portion of the audience actually dons business jackets and play a minor role as the largely unspeaking scrutinizing Board of Directors while Pearlman and Long cajole and preen, stutter and flirt, explain and plead their case like banished children to disapproving parents.

Review: (Ottawa) The Day We Grew Wings (Fringe)

The Kids Are All Right
Lost Wings Notwithstanding
by Jim Murchison 

I believe the Day We Grew Wings was written by Victoria Luloff and Stewart Matthews. The most consistent thing about the Fringe Festival is that is is limited by no funding, so sometimes programmes - if available - or information about a particular show is gleaned from multiple sources on the fly so I hope I make no errors in crediting.

After Dark, June 25, 2013

It Gets Better
I must be getting old...
by Gaëtan L. Charlebois

You have to know when to let it go. 

After last week's rant, the CharPo team dove into the most intense month of our year - Montreal Fringe, followed by Ottawa, followed by Toronto. Yes, there are still fuckups on all sides left and right, but compared to the enthusiasm and amazing energy of the people on our team, their unabashed excitement about Fringe and their mind-blowing productivity, I have found myself truly enjoying the ride... I do every year. 

Keeping up with our regular daily content and formatting Fringe reviews takes a buttload of time on my own and on National Editor-in-Chief Estelle Rosen's part. But I do make the job a little longer myself. Even after Estelle has done a first scan of pieces sent, I find myself reading - and with pleasure - each and every review when, technically, I could cut and paste and move on. (This is a habit dating back to when I was six when I would read the encyclopedia for pleasure simply because new things excited me.) 

Monday, June 24, 2013

Review: (Ottawa) Imprisoned (Fringe)

The World is not Black and White
by Robyn Lester

Sometimes it takes me a couple of days to really digest what I’ve seen.  I consider it a sign of a good play. Anything that keeps me thinking long after I’ve seen it is always worthwhile. Imprisoned is one of those plays. 

Written by Allie Bell, I found this piece uncomfortable to watch.  There’s no other way to say it. Uncomfortable because it took the subject matter of pedophilia, something that is almost always thought of in black and white terms, and proceeded to present it in shades of gray. I think it was a brave thing to write, and something that really encourages people to think more about the nature of right and wrong. This wasn’t so much a story of a bad guy and good guy, but the story of two people who are imprisoned by their need to do what they think is right.  

Review: (Ottawa) Ask Aggie - The Advice Diva (Fringe)

Learning From Experience
by Jim Murchison 

Christine Lesiak plays Aggie an advice guru with a little panache and salacious posturing. Her credentials are life so she explains her way through personal details and anecdotes, a lot of which is centred around the untimely deaths of her five husbands.

The play is directed by Jan Henderson who your programme will tell you is a clowning legend so you can expect physical comedy. It is great fun wondering how the next audience question is going to be pulled from Aggie's box. Lesiak combines a leonine approach with a Guide to the Kama Sutra when it comes time to dip back into the pandora's box of our souls and extract our innermost thoughts. 

Review: (Ottawa) Prognosis Justice (Fringe)

Freaky, well-oiled improv
by Robyn Lester

An alcoholic baseball player turned nurse.  A wound treated with a banana.  A man bludgeoned to death with golf balls and poisoned by lizards. This was only a small part of the absurdity during Friday’s showing of Prognosis Justice: an Improvised Dramatic Comedy. 

Review: (Ottawa) Windfall Jelly (Fringe)

A Simple Story Told In a Complex Way
by Robyn Lester

Friday afternoon I went to watch Windfall Jelly, written and directed by Eleanor Crowder. This play was very interesting. The story line was simplistic, essentially telling the story of a couple who are falling out of love - or rather, one party is falling out of love with the other. It’s not a new story.  It’s been told over and over again, but the way Eleanor Crowder explores this theme in Windfall Jelly is unique and complex.

Openings We're Tracking This Week, June 24-30, 2013

(via Facebook)

The Question, June 24, 2013

Trains, Travel, Dust, Outlaws
by Estelle Rosen

Anna Lewis is an actor and theatre creator. Originally from Vancouver, she holds a BFA in Theatre from Concordia University, and is currently based in Ottawa. She can be found acting, designing, stage managing, directing, and teaching as opportunities allow. Most recently, she has designed costumes for Absurd Person Singular (SevenThirty Productions), developed the god Monologues for Faith and Arts Ottawa, and performed in Edmond (Chamber Theatre Hintonburg). Anna is a producing member of Bear and Co.

CHARPO:  As  director of  professional touring theatre company Bear & Co., why did you select The Comedy of Errors to tour city parks throughout Ottawa this summer?

LEWIS: I love Shakespeare, I love Shakespeare outdoors, and especially in the summer. As far as I'm concerned, the best way to do Shakespeare is in the open air, with the sun (or rain), and whatever unexpected challenges the uncontrolled environment can provide. The plays are at their best when they're an event. You don't know if a pet will join the actors on stage, or if the nearby splashpad will provide a counterpoint at opportune moments. Shakespeare may have been dead for a while now, but the plays live when they are shared directly with an audience. 

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Review: (Ottawa) Grimprov (Fringe)

Dreams Off the Cuff
by Jim Murchison 

I originally planned to see Be A Man last night, but due to an unfortunate accident where one of the actors was struck by a car, the rest of the performances have to be cancelled while the cast has to figure out how to get back home. A fundraiser was held on their behalf last night.

I had planned to go with some friends who chose to go to Grimprov instead. This is the first show I have seen at the Fringe that has relied on more than one actor and also the first that is pure improvisation. The Ottawa company is Joel Garrow, Mike Koaowan, Drew McFayden and guest improvisational artist Jordan Moffat from Toronto (a returning member of Grimprov). The sound is provided by DJ Helicase (aka Austin Vair). 

Review: (Fringe) Borderlamd (Montreal)

Failure to Engage
by Élaine Charlebois
Borderland tells the story of a young Navid, a gay Iranian man who has fled his home country in search of a safe place where he can be himself without fear. Along his journey, he meets Zia, the man in charge of getting him safely to his hiding place in Borderland, and Leila, the woman who takes him into her home. Each of these characters is played by Etemadi.

Sunday Feature: Orton, Sloane, Sex, and Violence

Orton: Entertaining Sex, Violence and Counter Culture
by Christian Baines
There was something about the British youth culture that fascinated and terrified the mainstream in the 1960s. Whether it was the fear of dystopian moral decay by way of the Rolling Stones, or some misguided fear that the frightfully un-British hippy movement would fuse with that anger to create a countercultural monster, or the near obsession with graphic sex and gore-soaked violence that defined the horror films of Hammer and other studios... the message of overarching paranoia was clear.
Britain was doomed. The kids would destroy us all.
Many of Britain’s writers clearly and memorably shaped these fears into characters –often sexually active and engaging young men – such as Alexander DeLarge of A Clockwork Orange, or on stage, Joe Orton’s Mr Sloane, who returns to stalk Soulpepper Theatre under the redoubtable directing hand of Brendan Healy from July 5. 

Saturday, June 22, 2013

News: (Toronto) SummerWorks launch

Michael Rubenfeld

Guns, Magic, Space, Elvis
SummerWorks 2013 excites
by Gregory Bunker

“…Sounds of the sea,” were the words that ended a poem spontaneously composed by Four Words, an interactive experiment where party guests joined Sook-Yin Lee, Adam Litovitz, and Max Chandler in creating poetry, four words at a time. It was one of many interactive art pieces meant to entertain and intrigue the patrons at last night’s fundraiser bash in Toronto’s historic Campbell House. This 23rd season of the SummerWorks Festival will showcase over 70 original pieces of theatre, live art, and music from August 8th to the 18th in venues across the city. SummerWorks is the largest juried performance festival in the country, featuring boundary-pushers from Canada and beyond. Here’s a quick look at some of what’s to come.

One of the “and beyond” pieces creating buzz is Schützen by Danish performance artist Cecilie Ullerup Schmidt and German Matthias Meppelink, making its way from Berlin for its North American premiere at the festival. Schützen is a trilogy about the human ability to kill and its effects on the body. It is based on the artists’ interviews of American drone pilots, Israeli troops, and Berliners at a shooting range. Last night audio clips of these interviews were available for listening, as were clips of seriously slowed down shots from an AK-47. The former was raw interview material with the odd skip and cut; the latter sounded less like a gun and more like a spaceship taking off. What kind of marriage will these clips make?

Review: (Ottawa) slut (r)evolution (Fringe)

Celebrate the Slut Within Us
by Jim Murchison 

I'm going to start off this review with a little note about how slut (r)evolution came to be part of The Fringe Festival because you won't find it in the official program. So here's a little road map. The Traditional Dance Company of Sri Lanka  had last minute travel problems. Cameryn Moore was in town to do one performance only of Phone Sex at the Gladstone and ended up filling in with another six performances of slut (r)evolution at Fringe. So look for Sri Lankan Dance to find slut (r)evolution.

creating a/broad, June 22, 2013

Survival Guide to the Fringe
by Cameryn Moore

I’ve waxed lyrical about the emotional feeling of home, my need for relationships and interconnectedness out here on the road, my burning desire to seek out peers who are also wrestling with the tough issues of life and art and the intersection thereof. I’ve written about all that stuff at length, and I will do so again. Those things are no less important for being intangible.

But today I want to get physical. 

Rather, I don’t want to get physical, but I have to. It is the beginning of a new Fringe for me, here in Ottawa, and I am morbidly surprised to remember how very physical this business can be. My body aches from the weird buoyancy of a low-slung air mattress, and the bottoms of my feet hurt because I need to get some Dr. Scholl’s inserts for my trademark cowboy boots, and my eyes sting because I forgot to close the blinds in the east-facing room I’m billeting in and I didn’t get quite enough sleep, and my stomach is starting to get a little whiny about breakfast, because eating dinner at midnight after coming home from the beer tent means I’m not hungry upon waking, but three hours later I’m getting there.

Theatre For Thought, June 22, 2013

joel fishbane

Back in October, 2011, I wrote about some geeky theatre news that had gotten me hot and bothered: Joss Whedon, creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the writer / director of The Avengers, had filmed an adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing with some of his friends. At long last the film has arrived in theatres and it’s everything that was promised: a modern day Shakespearian romp filled with members of the Joss Whedon Reparatory Company – actors who Whedon has worked with (often repeatedly) throughout his career. 

The charming cast is the central reason this film adaptation works. Amy Acker, Alexis Denisof and Clark Gregg aren’t exactly household names but this film makes it clear that they should be; at the very least, they should all be doing a lot more Shakespeare in the days to come.  Filmed in 12 days at Whedon’s house, the cast has such fun with the text that it’s almost infectious. Much Ado About Nothing is one of my least favourite of all  Shakespeare’s comedies but it reaches new heights with this cast – and with the adaptation by Whedon, who chops away most of the annoying parts. 

Friday, June 21, 2013

Review: (Ottawa) 6 Guitars

More Notes From the Fringe
by Jim Murchison
Most of the time when I go to a one-person show, I am disappointed. I apply one critical test to my judgement of it. Would the play have been better with more actors and my answer is usually yes. So often the premise of one actor playing multiple characters is a parlour trick. In the case of Chase Padgett's and co-writer JayHopkins' magical storytelling the exact opposite is true. Because the play is about the commonality of the musical experience through various genres and how the musical experience moves, touches and informs us it is absolutely essential that a single actor moves through six different souls. 

Review: (Ottawa) The Greatest Guitarist in the World (Fringe)

Starting on a Strong Note
by Jim Murchison

The Fringe festival kicked off last night in Ottawa. The weather cooperated wonderfully as people gathered around the launch stage trying to figure out which shows are going to be the runaway hits, which are the ones with potential and which ones aren't quite there yet. 

That being said…on to The Greatest Guitarist in the World.

Review: (Toronto) Feng Yi Ting (Luminato)

(photo by Julia Lynn)

China Girl
by Shannon Christy

China is on pace to become the world’s largest economy by 2017.  Currently the country is serving the United States a big piece of humble pie on the world stage in the form of Eric Snowden a low level member of a private security firm who showed the planet that the United States has access to all of our information.  There goes the freedom.

The one thing the country does not produce enough of is girls.  Due to the single child policy Chinese families have produced a stunning amount of sons to daughters as male heirs are still the preferred choice.  With this in mind I was delighted by Luminato’s performance of this Chinese literary classic Feng Yi Ting.

Review: (Montreal) The Misery Factory (Fringe)

The Drear
by Bruce McKay

Simon Godfrey and Dan Allemann, who make up the Australian company This is Siberian Husky, are like really good performers covering a range of characters all revolving around a factory that specializes in producing misery, particularly for its employees, though also for the outside world as much as possible. And while The Misery Factory has a Monty Python feel to it the comedy here is generally so dark that it quickly becomes not-so-funny-at-all. And then kind of depressing. Which is a shame because Godfrey and Alleman pull off remarkable performances of shifting characters, accents, and emotions, all in rapid-fire succession. They had a choice apparently: Either this or a show about how raccoons ended up in Australia. With the talent these guys have the latter could be very, very interesting. 

The Misery Factor is at the Montreal Fringe

Review: (Montreal) Zack Adams: Zack to the Future (Fringe)

photo by Joseph St Marie
Will the real Zack please stand up
by Bruce McKay 

You’d think that ‘time travel’ stories – comedic or otherwise -- have pretty much all been done yet here we go again. The upshot in this case is that you can’t be in two places at the same time so you might as well be here, now. Zack Adams himself is a compelling performer and his work with a hand-held puppet in particular is marvelous. But this script (written by Mr. Adams' alter-ego Shane Adamczak) is unoriginal and fails as comedy. I was left just wondering what Mr. Adams could do with good material. 

Zack Adams is at The Montreal Fringe

Review: (Toronto) The Way of All Fish / Miss Fozzard Finds Her Feet

Nonnie Griffin (photo by Shy)

Women of a Certain Age
by Gregory Bunker

Kourage Theatre’s double bill of Elaine May’s The Way of All Fish and Alan Bennett’s Miss Fozzard Finds Her Feet showcases the wily wisdom of older women. Both of the 45-minute plays are dialogue-driven with little need for props or effects. Three women carry us through: Elva Mai Hoover and Tracy Rankin in The Way of All Fish and a solo performance by Nonnie Griffin in Miss Fozzard Finds Her Feet. There are no clichés here: plot fixtures include push-up competitions and foot-derived orgasms.