Monday, June 24, 2013

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. 

I would say that about one third of the play is improvised as the questions in the box are provided by the audience. Sometimes the questions are funnier than the answers and at other times a relatively mundane question is saved by Lesiak's reaction to it. 

The other scripted connecting pieces are some well written musical numbers that flesh out the details of Aggie's life and philosophy. As with any show that relies on improvisation to a degree, the audience mix will vary where the funniest or most illuminating parts are. 

I honestly felt that the show got stronger  as it progressed and I think it was mostly due to Lesiak's timing getting sharper as she got comfortable with her audience. In the end it was a fun little romp that may not have solved all our problems, but certainly didn't make things any worse and we had some laughs. I don't expect anyone will see all 54 shows - this is one worth adding to your list.   

runtime: approximately 60 minutes with no intermission
Ask Aggie – The Advice Diva runs until June 30

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