Saturday, July 20, 2013

Review: (Winnipeg) Promise and Promiscuity (Fringe)

A Truth Universally Acknowledged
by Edgar Governo

Penny Ashton makes it all look so easy.

In a nimble one-woman show, she alternates between multiple characters taken from the Jane Austen mold, distinguishing between them through her voice and mannerisms in such a a way that I never found myself confused or lost as I sometimes do when similar feats are attempted with less able performers. (Even her multiple bows at the end were in-character.) Ashton never seems to have any difficulty with these transitions, quickly improvising her way past a couple of flubbed lines, some slight technical hiccups, and a small bit of audience participation with a dance partner.

Promise and Promiscuity takes the basic frame of Pride and Prejudice and transposes it to Winnipegshire, with many references both local and topical--for every Timothy Horton, there is a Kimberline Kardashian. Despite a few asides about how gender relations have changed (or haven't) in the past 200 years, the play moves at a brisk pace and keeps the tone lighthearted. The frequent innuendo stays roughly at the raunch level of an Austin Powers film, with much of the action taking place at "Little Cox Cottage" and one character proclaiming her fondness for formal dances: "Oh, how I love balls!" The music provided by composer Robbie Ellis should also be highlighted for achieving the same balance between honouring the original source material and incorporating many modern touches. (You'll never hear "Party Rock Anthem" the same way again.)

For lovers of Regency Era romances, modern musicals, and cheeky wordplay in general, Promise and Promiscuity accomplishes a successful mashup of genres that many modern re-imaginings can only hope to achieve.

Promise and Promiscuity is at the Winnipeg Fringe
[ED: Reports are that this show is playing to packed houses - get there early]

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