Friday, June 28, 2013

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.

The music was superb.  Well, as long as you’re into indie-folk music.  Nathan Howe (as Alik) and Lauren Holfeuer (as Matchstick) both have lovely voices and great instrumental talent.  There were a couple of times when Holfeuer’s voice was a little tricky to hear over the guitar, but for the most part the singing was clear enough to reveal lyrics that were touching and bittersweet.   

The writing was very clever, and the overall structure of the musical took you on a bizarre emotional journey.  I won’t give anything away about the story, because it’s better if you go into it not knowing what to expect.  But I can say this: I was tricked.  The first half lured me into believing that I was watching some comedic twisted fairy-tale.  But as the second half unfolded, it became clear that I was watching something much darker.  And something that was based on real-life events.   

The staging was seamless and very creative.  There were a variety of tactics used to help make the story come alive.  Projected sketches illustrated the different settings.  Illustrations that were appropriately reminiscent of those you’d find in fairy-tales.  While photos and silhouettes were used as stand-ins for other characters.  

I can’t think of anything that I didn’t enjoy about this show.  There wasn’t as much music in the second half, and the tone completely changed.  But it did so in a way that felt completely natural. 
In a word: recommended!

Matchstick is at the Ottawa Fringe

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