Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Review: (Montreal) Gingervitis (Fringe)

by Janis Kirshner

And this is what we love about the Fringe… For whatever reason, this particular one out of 110 shows, Project Gingervitis, has been picked. You’re pretty sure it’ll be just okay, if that. You’re fairly certain it will consist of ‘woe-is-me’-ness jokes about carrot-top, sunscreen and watery blue eyes. You’d be wrong.

I always heard that King Solomon, known for his wisdom, was a redhead. Perhaps channelling Solomon’s soul, playwright/performer Jordan Lloyd Watkins under the direction of David Bloom has crafted an intelligent, funny and thought-provoking piece about the ‘other’. Using both real and skilfully done fake video news clips as well as faux Save the Children ads to highlight and offer depth to the narrative, we follow the story of Red 1- the red headed science subject from the age of four. It’s 2084 and redheads have long been eradicated. Except for this one, the last of his kind… (cue early video of an achingly cute Watkins)

Off the top, Watkins shares interesting historical facts along with the associated nick-names redheads have heard, including the aforementioned carrot-top and the new-to-me fire down below. Redheads, at two percent of the population, used to have high status in bygone ages. Their passion was spoken about with a twinkle in the eye of the beholder. 

Next, along with other destruction, Belfast bombs are used as proof of redhead terrorism. Newscasts talk of implementing the Security Act. Experts speak about ‘separate but equal’ and a ‘permanent solution’. Not so jokey now. By the end, we are totally invested in ‘Simon’, Red 1’s self-chosen name. Satire, yes, but we know the seed of it is all too possible. Local theatre-goers only have to access the too recent Charter of Values. With good writing and a performance to match, go see this one.

June 13 - 22

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