Saturday, July 20, 2013

Review: (Winnipeg) Ask Aggie (Fringe)

Asked and Answered
by Edgar Governo

It would be easy for the subject matter in Ask Aggie - The Advice Diva to come across as trite--many Fringe shows have revolved around both questions from the audience and advice on sex and relationships--but Christine Lesiak manages to make the material seem fresh through her approach.

Aggie is a welcoming and approachable persona, quick to cut down any claims to traditional authority by noting her own lack of formal credentials.  As Lesiak noted in her recent interview on this site, the character grew out of the bouffon tradition, rooted in mockery, and although I didn't think of this as a clown show while I was watching it, her extensive clowning experience informs much of the character.

Lesiak is particularly gifted with the physical aspects of her own performance--not in the sense of engaging in pratfalls, but in keeping potentially repetitive moments in the show (like removing audience-submitted questions from a box onstage) interesting through presentation and physical variation. She also displays excellent improv skills when dealing with the audience directly, and it's clear that she has built up experience and confidence dealing with what I imagine are some recurring questions and themes through her run in Ottawa that she is now applying to the Winnipeg Fringe.

The show takes a surprisingly serious turn at the very end, involving a skydiving metaphor that kept me thinking for some time after I left the venue. I'm not sure if that anecdote existed in previous versions of Ask Aggie, but it's interesting that the most thought-provoking moment for me answered a question it would never occur to me to ask.

Ask Aggie is at the Winnipeg Fringe

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