Archive for June, 2010|Monthly archive page

Fringe 2010 List of Lists

In Fringe Fest, Theatre on June 30, 2010 at 3:51 am

It’s been a couple of days now, and I’ve begun detox and reset procedures after this year’s particularly rough Fringe experience.  Eleven days, 45 shows taken in (counting six repeat performances), all shows reviewed and posted later the same night they were seen, one night excepted.  Countless beers and energy drinks downed, several awesome connections made, 2 cd’s purchased, 4 posters stolen (SO sorry), 6 Fringe pins purchased, and only late for work once.  So what did it all mean?

Well, a cavalcade of nutty good theatre of all stripes, for the most part…I saw reg’lar plays, one-woman and man shows, cabaret, dance, improv, burlesque, mime, and whatever the Hell you classify Daniel Nimmo under.  And as long as I’m lazily segueing into classifications, it’s time to get the first ever LIST OF LISTS post underway.  Let’s start with the good stuff:



Margo Mac and Sarah Finn nail it with the strongest classic theatre of the Fringe, and easily become the quick fan fav’rit of the festival.   I didn’t get to see this one a second time like I wanted, but have no doubt it will return in a different veune somewhere, sooner than later.  It’s just too good not to be back.


Okay, this one caught me totally by surprise.  I was definitely not expecting the sharp, smart, razor-sharp funny writing and brilliant physical choreography that I was treated to.  Carlone and Wilson are twisted little geniuses, and I thank them for the much needed laughter.  Apples everywhere!


An inuit legend brought to stunning life by acting, gorgeous dance routines, awesome action and a dynamite live rock band (who even get into the action on-stage by the end).  Maybe the greatest pure spectacle I’ve been treated to at any Fringe so far…or anywhere else.

#2 – 7(x1) SAMURAI

David Gaines could have charged a hundred bucks for this one-man clown-and-mime retelling of Seven Samurai, called it a workshop, and it would have been worth every penny.  When it was over, I would have sworn there had been dozens of people on stage.  An absolute privilege.


A simple tale of Jewish Intelligentsia escaping the iron curtain, Ellison Zasko’s portrayal of the journey of Boris, Tatianna and Katya Sputnik captured my poor little heart from the first gummi bear.  One woman, a chair, and an utterly real word I’ll never forget. This is theatre.

Honourable mentions..!

-A DAY IN THE LIFE OF MISS HICCUP, Yanomi’s deliciously offbeat clown performance, with easily the best bit of costuming at the Fringe.

-MEN TELLING STORIES, a simple, terrific comedy gem about men who aren’t assholes, and how to be one of them.  Brothers, it’s been too long.

-THE LAST GODDAMNED PERFORMANCE PIECE.  Jayson Mac strikes again, balancing wicked humour with aching drama.

-PURELY CABARET, Lindsay Suthereland Boal belting out a cabaret concert to stir the spirits and rouse the blood.  Nice outfit, too.

-ARCHY AND MEHITABEL, with gentleman Jeff Culbert playing an anarchist cockroach and vixenish alley-cat, and capturing me for every subversive moment.

-CACTUS: THE SEDUCTION, Jonno Katz doing what Jonno Katz does best…reinventing comedic theatre for his own twisted purposes, and bringing us along for the ride.  The only bit of crowd-surfing I’ve yet seen at a Fringe.

-and MULTINATIONAL GRAPE CORPORATIONS, european-style guerilla theatre at it’s most insane.

But wait, there’s more..!  Here comes list #2…


#4 – THE LAST STRAIGHT MAN IN THEATRE – I actually saw an early version of this show last year, but apparently it’s been refined since then, and I never made it in to check it out.  Which bums me, since I got to befriend Kurt and Alison over the course of the fest.  Next time!
#3 – SAUCY JACK – Because, from the people I’ve talked to who HAVE seen it, it’s a show you’ll never, ever forget.  And that is a smashing top hat.

#2 – G-MEN: DEFECTIVES – Now I cannot lay claim to completing my Sterling Lynch hat trick at this year’s Fringe.

#1 – SIX : AT HOME – Held at what’s considered the coolest venue at the Fringe, SIX…regularly sold out and got great buzz.  And now I’ll never know.

I’m running out of ideas for now, so let’s finish up with a personal thing…

TOP 3 2010 FRINGE MOMENTS (for me):

#3 – the Blogger Wine and Cheese – Okay, it was a dull party, but I was invited!  For the first time, my participation in the fringe was just slightly more than mere spectator, and it felt nice.  also, that cheese was pretty much all I had to eat that day.

#2 – The ‘secret’ cabaret show – A tradtion in other Fringes that Ottawa is only just starting to embrace (so I’m told), this specil late-night event at the SAW featured several performers putting on brand new bits of whatever they could scrabble together, from songs to skits to stand-up, and it was all pay what you can.  The hot fudge on top of the sundae that is Fringe.
#1- People recognizing me! – And not just reg’lar folk, like delightful Aussies Bridget and Charlie…even though this terrible blog/chud of mine is only a month old, the likes of Sterling Lynch, Nadine Thornhill and Barry Smith were approaching ME at the Fringe to comment on my so-called ‘work’.  And boy, did I ever dig that feeling.  After many years of writing to no one in partiular and to no avail, I think I may have finally found someplace that, dare I say it…fits.  Which, for a Visitor like me, is saying something.  We shall see.

…and that’s it for now.  I may go back and add more lists to this entry as I see fit, because I’ve got one or two picking fights in my head.  And if anyone out there has any additions of their own they’d like to make, drop a line.  In the meantime, I’ve got writing to do, and plots to hatch.  Shine on, you crazy diamonds,

The Visitor


In Fringe Fest, Theatre on June 28, 2010 at 7:08 am

Yeah, okay, I skipped a night.  I was tired again, and I’m weak, and you can’t hate me more than I hate myself, so let’s just get on with it, okay? Shit, I just hope I even remember yesterday!

Started off early, as I managed to unshackle myself from the oars at work for a day.  Hit the 12:30 of ‘DENTITY CRISIS by Erudite Theatre, and was suitably impressed.    By Chris Durang, telling a wonderfully weird story about a disturbed, suicidal young woman and her Mother, who may or may not have invented cheese.  Also the Mother’s son/husband/father/lover, all of who may or may not be the same person.  Not even mentioning the gender-switching psychologist.  She’s a keeper, this one, and happily stars Mike Showler, of my ’08 Fringe fave TRASHCAN DUET, so that made me smile.  Good start to the day!

This was awesome, end of story. Fuck you, critics!

Met up with my Jammy and the Crystalline Entity then, had a coffee and treated myself to a second viewing of 7(x1)SAMURAI, David Gaines’ tour de force of mime.  It was even more amazing the second time, losing no impact with time.  You start to feel a sort of ecstatic rapture near the end, as the sun begins to go down in the east, or at least I did.  He even managed to play with the ringing cellphone that interrupted his show, and work with it.  A fucking gentleman, that’s what this man is.  And one of the most talented people I’ve ever come across.  Hope I come across him again.

Jammy and I broke for lunch, had some pork schnitzel in the Market Square (dee-licious!), before I sent her off by herself to see the unmissable DUCK WIFE (I bought a cd!), as I trekked away to catch SEEKING…, a delightful 3-manner from Heat andHot Water Prod.. With a few intertwining stories of love looked for (among other things), a very smart cast slips between characters with ease, and manages to endear us to all of them.  It’s a sort-of happy ending that leaves you almost-satisfied.  But it always feels real.

Still on my own, I battled down to the Oak to try again for a show I’d been denied earlier…Bremner Duthie’s THE PIG OF HAPPINESS.  It happened this time, and despite the crumby, oppressive venue (and seriously, let’s cut this ‘basement of the Oak’ shit out until they get some A/C down there) it was a grand time.  Bremner is fucking born for the stage, in both mannerism (as he says, an actor needs to love himself) and voice.  Which in his case is golden.  he skips from song to song, in between narrative about the elusive search for happiness, with perfect ease, going so far as to concoct a transmogrification of Como, Cobain and Concertina that was easily the hit of the night.  He’s an awesome entertainer, and I just wish I could have seen him and Lindsay Boal doing a duet.  Or at least him in a better venue.

Finally met back up with the Jammy for Jeff Cottrill‘s GROUCH ON A COUCH, one I’d been curious about.  It was just what the posters made it seem…a grouch, suspiciously close to ‘Oscar’ of sesame street, getting counselling after a violent outburst.  It sounds like live-action Sesame Street fanfiction…and, okay, that’s exactly what it is.  But there’s some interesting ideas thrown in there, too…The dumbing down of children’s televison, the desperation of bullied children, the nightmare of just being god-damned miserable all the time.   It’s ripe fodder, Jeff has a grand time with it on the stage. and it’s worth a look.

The Jammy headed for home, and boy, I should have too.  I was sleepy.  But after some time at the tent…including the surreal moment when I saw Miss Hiccup, in full regalia, sitting on a curb waiting for the bus), I figgered what the Hell?  One more won’t kill me!  And I saw the 11 pm show of Salamander Shakespeare’s THE DEATH OF TYBALT.  It was a dandy…they had a nice take on the story, at least for the first part.  Most of the players wee doing straight Bill S., except for Romeo, who was left in street clothes and bounded about like a dandy, or crawling on no fours like a snake. The play took a predictable turn for the grim (it IS Shakespeare) in the 2nd half, calling for a little swordplay.  And some death…and it gets all serious, and I for one started to miss whimsical Romeo.  Not that it was bad, just that it got traditional.  And Garret Quirk and Danielle Savoie as Tybalt and Rosaline were wonderful, and we should all be looking out for them in the near future.  Guaranteed they’ll be doing good things.

Then it was off for home, and bed.  And yes, I was supposed to update, but I did NOT.  I was tired,and I looked at my stats and saw that basically no-one had visited my crappy page in 24 hours, so I figured it was okay.  I feel sorry for myself a lot.  You should learn that soon, if you’re one of the imaginary people reading this.

After a moderately rotten brunch shift I returned, for the final time this year, to the Fringe.  I was too late for a repeat show of MISS HICCUP, so I opted instead to do a repeat of Lindsay Boal’s PURELY CABARET.  I shifted myself into one of the higher seats, melted down under the welcome blow of an air conditioner, and let the wondrous tunes waft over me.  At least, that was the plan.

It was an AWESOME plan, and worked very well.   I adore how much Lindsay seems to thrill at every single song, no matter the subject or tone.  She quit a much more lucrative opera career to tour the fringe cabaret-stylee, and her passion is so evident you practically have to wash it off of yourself when you leave the theatre.  Wotta performer.

Next up was a long-awaited treat….my repeat performance of E.Zasko’s THE SPUTNIKS, my fav’rit emotional gut-punch of the festival.  I love this show like comic books, and it hits me like a cement mixer to the frontal cortex.  It’s everything I adore about the stage.  Afterwards, I kept seeing Elison Zasko about the fringe, wearing her li’l green cap, and I was too intimidated to talk to her.  The show just hit me too hard.  If I HAD talked to her again, I probably just would have thanked her.  I’ll do that next time.

I had my chance, actually, next show (my last show of Fringe 2010) when she was in the audience at Daniel Nimmo’s AOMEGA, one I’d been looking forward to.  A surprisingly small crowd (I’d figured his Australian cachet alone would net him bigger groups), but Nimmo worked it with a  hilarious combination of desperation and showboating.  The story is a little hard to follow…something about alien infestation of consciousness and a need to evolve, all revolving around a tiny teddy bear, but it matters not.  Nimmo reminded me  of a young Rik Mayall up there, and maybe the show is still young, or he’s just ahead of his time, but I still felt really excited to be there, in that studio, watching him weave his high-energy madness over us.  What better way to end the Fringe?

I sat there alone for a spell, writing a few thoughts, with the odd interruption.  Met Bridget and Charlie, fellow fans, these ones from Australia, and we agreed that Patrick Langston was indeed a cunt (basically).  Later, Barry Smith himself walked up to me and said that he enjoyed my writings.  That was AWESOME.

A few random chats later, as the awards were handed out and the lights dimmed..Jeff, Barry, Kurt, Nancy (she said something very nice to me, which I shall not repeat here , only to say it was very nice and it made me feel pretty swell).  It was a fine night.  It was a fine Fringe.  It was a magnificent Fringe.  And I’m not done yet.

I’ll have hopefully two more posts coming as follow ups to this lovely eleven days….my LIST OF LISTS, and, if I can suss it out, the first annual OTTAWA FRINGE-FEST FANFICTION ROUNDUP.  And if you’re reading this, drop a line and let me know.  There ain’t a beer tent for me to accidentally find out for another eleven months or so!

Your pal, as always,

The Visitor


In Fringe Fest, Theatre on June 26, 2010 at 8:45 am

I’m feeling a little out of it right now…got the mean reds,and they’re kicking me while I’m down.  Not sure where they came from (yes I am), but I’m thinking it’s past time to shake it off, because I need to get in character.  And oh, what news to tell!

Actually, it was a pretty light day for me…only three shows (well, sort of four), and only one of them was a new one.  Well, sort of two…but we’ll get to that.  I felt pretty aok and refreshed today, ready for the final three-day climb to the end of the Fringe. I got to my first venue in good time and bought my ticket, then waited around in the terribly pleasant weather.  Soon, another Fringe performer wandered by, flyering for her show that evening.  And I recognized her.  And…oh, I’m getting a little anxious as I type this, but…


…and she was SOOO cool.  I was all like, ‘I saw your show and it was awesome and I blogged about it and stuff!’, you know, like that?  And then SHE, she hits me with ‘I read that review!’ and she thinks it was all, you know, nice and cool, and…shit, Elison Zasko knows who I am! 
No fooling, I was in a goose-pimply geekout for the next half an hour.  It was pretty fantastic, and yes, I’m a tremendous nerd.  it’s all part of my lack of charm.

When I finally started coming down out of my brush-with-fame-haze, it was time for lights down on MULTINATIONAL GRAPE CORPORATIONS, and…holy shit, where do I start?  From the clearly and beautifully demented Negative Theatre, gRape is a theatrical punch to the face, a nitro-fueled hybrid of anti-corporate rebellion, Pasolini, and You Can’t Do That on Television.  Stars Chara Berk and writer/Director Ozgur Cinar come across as wild-eyed prophets, some weird mutants genetically bred specifically to be in this production.  Replete with topical video imagery, slapstick, oddball situations and the occasional bout of the scatological ( a first for me at Fringe..!), gRape sometimes treads the border between theatre, and the sort of overwrought and overindulgent works parodied in THE LAST GODDAMNED PERFORMANCE PIECE , but it treads it well.  Delightfully absurd, and strikingly intelligent beneath all that bluster, I can honestly say I’m very glad I saw this one. 

Next up was…well, pretty much an empty page.  I had literally seen every single production playing in the 8pm slot.  Now, that wasn’t too big a problem for me, there were a few shows I’d LOVE to see again there.  I tried SHADOWS first, but of course it was sold out.  So I headed over to SAW, and THE SPUTNIKS had some room for me…but I couldn’t do it.  I wanted to, oh did I, but…it then struck my childlike mind that I’d just met (and gushed over) Sputnik-star Elison Zasko earlier, and I suddenly got worried that if she spotted me in the audience, she’d, I dunno, think I was stalking her or something.  Which totally would have been accurate. 

 So I bailed, and took a little down time.  Sat and pondered in the beer tent, chatted momentarily with the also-awesome Cameryn Moore, and eventually picked up and made my way to the 9:30 show, my half-repeat for the night.  Okay, it was THE LAST GODDAMNED PERFORMANCE PIECE, which I of course had already seen.  But that, if you’ll recall, if you’ve even been reading this blog (do I even KNOW you??), was on the super-secret Sunday night Nancy Kenny edition.  Tonight, it would be regular Ottawa show leading lady Celine Fillion, also of WHO YOU CALLIN’ SWEETHEART, teaming up with Ben Meuser.  And I felt I had to give the lady her due, seeing as she’s on the program and all.

So now, having seen another goddam delightful performance of …PERFORMANCE, I felt eminently qualified to decide…which was the better leading actress?  Fillion or Kenny?  Who would triumph, and who would fall?  Would Celine Fillion not be up to the task?

Would Nancy Kenny simply phone in her performance..?

And now I have the answer.  And it’s my usual dapper, diplomatic answer, and it’s that they’re BOTH awesome, and you should be ashamed of yourself for asking.  Don’t you blood-hungry swine get by now that you’re dealing with a fucking gentleman over here?  Pish tosh!

But I forgive you, as always.  Just in time for my final (actual) show of the night, another repeat.  This time my second helping of the ridiculously terrific PETER N’ CHRIS SHOW.  My planned partner for the evening show didn’t make it for whatever reasons, but I more than made do with Dilemmic Prisoner Nadine Thornhill by my side for the proceedings.  And the show was even funnier the second time, probably my comedy highlight of this Fringe, and that’s with stiff competition.   Peter n’Chris be the real deal, sez I.

That would have been it for the night, and I would have been home about 2 hours earlier, except tonight the Fringe hosted their SECRET CABARET SHOW over at the saw, and I was too tempted not to attend.  What the Hell, I ain’t workin’ tomorrow!  The place was packed, the joint was jumpin’ you dig me?  Filled to the gills with Fringe performers, volunteers, techies, writers, directors…and, for some reason, me.  Pat Gauthier intro’d the proceedings, and were off to a wild and wicked cool fuckin’ race.  Bremner Duthie got us rolling with one of his well-crooned tunes, followed by geetar-picking  from the likes of Jonno Katz, Ben Meuser and Barry Smith.  FAKE geetar-picking from Matt and Peter of MEN TELLING STORIES.  The most hilariously distasteful skit of the evening courtesy of Prarie Fire and Elison Zasko (!).  Kurt Fitzpatrick (in a positively heroic amount of body paint for that hour) and his crew with the secret origin of food.   A multi-Fringer skit (featuring the cast of SEEKING…) concerning poutine-powered dreams of this years most memorable characters.  And a killer capper with an original one-act play by Devon and Connor  of DALE BEANER AND THE TURTLE BOY.  It was an amazing night.   And I do know how lucky an outsider I am to have been allowed in.

We all got hustled out, as the show started late and ended later, and we really weren’t suposed to still even BE there.  I stood in a bit of a daze, before heading out to catch a bus halfway home and walk the rest.  I enjoyed it.  And I did all sorts of reflecting, as I often do when allowed time to myself (which is, like, WAY often), and that’s about when I started to get the mean reds.  But that’s cool.  Because they’re letting me know what I’ve got to do.

Besides, that is, be WAY less serious on tomorrow’s post.  The show must go on!  And two days left, let’s all leave on a high note.  Like, Vicodin-high.  No, wait…no.  Too low.  Too low.

Heroin.  Yeah.  Let’s go out like heroin.   You and me.  This weekend. Ready..?  See you there (and you better be seein’ some shows),

The Visitor

PS:  I’m not actually asking anyone to do heroin with me, it’s just a god-damned metaphor.  You get that, right?

PPS:  Or is that simile..?


In Fringe Fest, Theatre on June 25, 2010 at 5:59 am

Okay, I took a nap today..?  So I’m gonna stop whining now about the ‘I’m tired’ shit.  It was getting old anyways, am I right?  But, mmm-boy, that was some GOOD napping.

Awoke all refreshed-like, ready to go do that Fringe-things one more time.  And started off with HEART-STRINGS, by Tanya Elchuk and Amy Crnkovic.  And may I say unequivocally, god-dammit, that was adorable.

Adorableness, captured in its natural environment.

Tanya and Amy have made a pretty wonderful piece about a girl’s interaction with her wayward, well-intentioned heart, including some very fun, brief spurts of audience interaction and several musical pieces.  You could feel it coming oh-so close to being overly cutesy, but no.   It was always just the exact right amount of cutesy, and I loved it.  It was whip-smart to boot, and that always makes me happy.

Feeling merry, I left fellow playgoer Wayne C. and ran to Arts Court for what would be the first of a venue trifecta for me this night.  This one was EDGE, by Lauren Binhammer and Written on Water Theatre.  It tells the rather ambitious, occasionally allegorical story of  a pending flood in Windsor Ontario, and the lives of a select few individuals who may or may not be oracles and prophets, complete with chorus.  I loved the set of trash cans, the rapid transitions between characters and scenarios, and thought all the actors were pretty spot-on with rapid-fire delivery.  Edge is some good eating, and that’s no lie.

Ran into the Crystalline Entity after that show, and she was on her way in to see THE DUCK WIFE.  I’d already seen that one, and since it was one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen in my fucking LIFE, promptly agreed to see it again.  The show rocked me even harder the second time…Grub Animal is my kinda band, with just enough Surf in their guitar to turn the cool-knobs up a notch.  And that dude who plays the ‘randy’ duck later on..?  Funniest bit in the Fringe so far.  That dude slays with his lip-and-hip work, like some waddling Elvis.

Cooled down for an hour in the tent after, and downed a beer and a wrap before making the last show of the night, Cameryn Moore’s PHONE WHORE.  I’d heard this woman’s bold and brash voice all over the Fringe since she arrived, so I was right intrigued to see what her show was like.  And it was a thematically simple idea…a phone-sex operator working a late shift, explaining her story to the audience while occasionally being interrupted by her job.   And it’s really good.  I wasn’t as distubed as some, and I don’t know what it says about me that some of Moore’s stories WEREN’T shocking the shit out of me…I think I was most shocked to learn that there’s still phone sex.  Did these people not have the internet?  But whatevah…Moore’s ideas and insights into the nature of her work, and her clients (even, or especially, the ones whose fetishes are considerd too taboo even for most sex workers) were for me the most exciting part of the play.  It’s a wicked little slice of a reality most of us have never been exposed too.

And that was that!  A quick pint at the tent, momentary kibbitzing with FamousActressNancyKenny, and I bid the Crystalline Entity adieu, headed on home (error-free this time), and that brings us to this point here.  Where I say that there’s still 3 more days of Fringe left, and let’s all see some shows, eh?  Good plan!  See you there,

Your old pal,

The Visitor


In Fringe Fest, Theatre on June 24, 2010 at 5:44 am

I’m getting a little concerned.  My body is actively beginning to fail me, my legs are barely keeping me staggering, and maybe there really is something to this ‘sleep derprivation’ blather.  Thank god I’m perfectly willing to sacrifice my health for your art, or I’d have been in bed ages ago.

As it stands (or sits teetering on the edge) my bed is currently maddeningly close.  If I could just wrap this one up I’ll have it made because, tomorrow?  I get to SLEEP FUCKING IN.  Oh, long and forgotten dream, it’ll be like reaching the proverbial oasis in the desert.

No, the kind that's good for something.

But I still have to get there, and she’s been a  long haul already, dear friends.  Dragging my ass out of bed to work this morning was deadly…the oversized Red Bull I had for breakfast managed to keep me mobile, but the constant influx of energy drinks and coffee this week is starting to disinntegrate my stomach lining like some internal, personalized Sarlacc pit.  And hey, you know what I didn’t need while overtired, shaky, dizzy,and working around open flame and bubbling hot oil..?  A fucking EARTHQUAKE, that’s what.  I mean seriously, Mother Nature, save that shit for the closing night party, willya?  I’m having enough trouble staying vertical already.

Finally escaped from the kitchen, had some coffee and comix as I desperately started counting down the hours until I could finally get to sleep, then headed on over to the Fringe.  And yes, it would be a full 4-count of shows tonite, regardless of my pathetic state (the medical definition is ‘so tired I want to die’).  I’m still feeling pretty guilty about missing a show on tuesday.

I should have BEEN in one of those seats..!

So in I hobbled to Arts Court Theatre, to catch the 6pm of Ken ‘the God’ Godmere’s autobiographical IT’S JUST A STAGE, and maybe it really is the lack of sleep, but god damn, did that charming gent just build a whole stage right in front of me??  It’s a pretty awesome gimmick, and  very good, heartfelt show.   Ken clearly knows his stages, and he even sets this show up for a sequel (so maybe a better businessman than he lets on, too).  I don’t really know much about the local improv scene, mind you, so some of the bits were over my head…but he also made me more interested to find out.  So, a good sign.

Still standing, I battled off the the pretty cool Velvet Room in the Market (after a quick hot dog from Sasha’s…I needed SOME sort of fuel if I was gonna make it), for Pat Devine’s road memoir BREAKING DOWN IN AMERICA.  Very reminiscent of Barry Smith (that’s a compliment) in his multimedia retelling of his misadventures trying to cross the country in what a car so dilapidated it almost looked homemade.  Despite the room being oversized for his needs, Pat pulled the show off with charm, telling some pretty funny roadstories along the way.  He too leaves his show open for another installment, so here’s hoping we see the genial chap back again sooner.

There was no time to lose, though…I could practically hear the rapid fire death screams of my brain cells, and was fading fast.   I ignored the budding raindrops and returned to arts Court, this time for BILLY STUTTER: AN IRISH PLAY.  A nice ensemble piece set in I’m-not-exactly-sure when, or maybe on some alternate reality called Irishland, where stereotypes are playfully and lovingly embraced.  Teling the story of an all-too silent Boxer and his unrequited love for the beauty across the cemetary from him (Dana Fradkin doing a crackerjack job, and I’m not just saying that because she’s the cuteness (which she is)), STUTTER is a really good, funny piece.  Almost too funny for it’s own good in a couple of scenes…one or two moments you weren’t sure if they wanted you laughing or gasping.  But still definitely worth seeing.

Had an hour to kill before my last show, so I stumbled to the courtyard for a beer that my body most certainly did NOT need.  But I got to chat with two of the showmen I’d seen that nite, Pat Devine and Ken Godmere, so THAT was awesome.  And I managed not to get too drenched when it started pouring again…I only had as far at the library to dash, for the small mercy that was my last show of the evening…and what a show.  One of my most anticipated (you come all the way from frickin’ Japan, you bet I’m seeing your show), A DAY IN THE LIFE OF MISS HICCUP  by Shoshinz did not disappoint.  Quite frankly, the delightfully oddbal title character had us all in the palm of her dainty, gloved hand from the moment she teetered out onto the stage.  The story showcases one day, or maybe the entire life..?  Of the endearing Miss.H, as she goes therough her routine set to a curious score of songs and sounds, that our heroine plays off of with comic timing that must be seen to be believed.   Anyone in the audience posessing a human soul was easily charmed by what they saw, and I wish this show grand success.  This is the kind of thing you go to Fringe for…utter, brilliant madness the likes of which you would never have otherwise imagined.

Seriously, you could not have come up with this.

The rain was still pounding when I got out, so I took a shred of mercy on my withered husk and skipped the beer tent (sacrilege!), hailed a cab and headed homeward for the final, agonizing stretch.  And agonizing it was, oh my friends…my cabbie got lost, my computer had crashed, and the only browser that will connect to the internet anymore crashes if I try to import text.   Which is why, after I wrote this review last night I posted it on my Facebook page, crashed for a few hours, and now I’m back up again all-too early at 10 to manually retype the whole fucking thing into WordPress.  Why?  Shit, I dunno…I’m going with oxygen deprivation at this point.  But here it is (unless something ELSE goes…I’m not finishing that thought), please do enjoy, I’m going back to bed. 

 See you (fully rested this time, so be ready) at the Fringe, your old pal,

the Visitor


In Fringe Fest, Theatre on June 23, 2010 at 6:37 am

I’ve hit the wall.

And that means, I’m not hitting the wall, I’ve crashed into it and shattered myself upon it.  I am broken, my body openly rebelling against me for the 3-5 hours of sleep (drunken) per night I’ve allowed it in the last 6 days.  I can hardly concentrate, and all I want to do is slip into a nice, REAL coma for a few months.  Which is why I did the unthinkable.

I skipped a performance.  Only three shows tonite.  Yes, I’m that fucking weak and I expect you all hate me now.  I know I do.  I deserve your scorn.

I staggered into the fringe half-awake, raindrops slowly teasing themselves out of the grey skies above in anticipation of a blanket of downpour that seems oddly comforting to me.  I imagine myself staring up into those sundered heavens screaming out my exhaustion to the elements, and being baptised in the primal waters of the world.

…Did I mention the wicked cool hallucinations all this sleep deprivation is giving me?  They fucking rock.  And I’m still not sure that my first show of the night, THE DUCK WIFE, wasn’t one of them.  Put on by Inertia Productions and rock band Grub Animal, this epic retelling of an ancient inuit folk tale hits Godzilla-levels of cool within seconds and never god-damn well stops.  Brilliant (to my untrained eyes, at least) choreography, awesome tunes, a heroic adventure to rival any of the classics…and rightfully, this SHOULD be one of the ‘classics’.  The DW gang offers printouts of the legendary story at the venue, as well as merch to buy, and I’m thinking I’ll get me some so I can be one of the cool kids.  I met a few of the performers a day ago outside SAW, and they seemed like righteous folk.  I’m so glad I saw this show, as its energy gave me some of my own again.

Enough at least to brave the rain and meet my Jammy in the courtyard, where karaoke was getting underway…we stayed long enough to one of Wayne’s many faces belt out the first tune of the evening, followed by Phone Whore Cameryn Moore and others, until we had to go for our next show.  Thankfully it was a short trip to the SAW for the delightful DALE BEANER AND THE TURTLE BOY, a two-man comic tale from Connor Thompson and Devon Hyland.  It plays like an extended SNL skit…one of the good ones, don’t worry…with the two of them filling all roles in the oddball story of a child star and a turtle-ized freak trying to take control of their lives at the MLB All-Star game.  The lads are well comfortable in the spotlight, as well as pretty fucking funny, and they have the rather charming habit of occasionally cracking each other up, much to the audience’s enjoyment.  And I am of course too modest to comment about being name dropped in CUPCAKE CREW 11: THE RETURN OF GUMBALL KEVIN, tho I suspect they were just sucking up for a good review (it worked).

We high-fived the Crystalline Entity on the way out, and the Jammy made her way home as it was a school night.  I stuck around and got a ticket (barely) for 7(x1)SAMURAI, a show by one David Gaines , a man who literally possesses the title of ‘Professor of Mask and Movement’.

And you thought you were ALL that, Professor Zoom...

It’s his retelling of the classic 3-hour Kurosawa epic film SEVEN SAMURAI, except all on his lonesome, using nothing but his own body, two masks, and a shitload of clown training.  In one goddamn hour.
…later on, while I was participating happily in his standing ovation, I made the following vow to myself…the next time I hear some loudmouth, thickneck, or even just your typical dummy/drone incapable of original thought, telling me that they ‘hate mimes’..?  I’m kicking them right in the nuts (or the canoe, because I am NOT sexist), on behalf of professor D.Gaines.   You’re welcome in advance, prof.  And seriously…SERIOUSLY.  Seeing this show was nothing less than a privilege.  At least once each Fringe, I see something that makes me reel and think, ‘I didn’t know you could DO that, with just a body and a stage’.  I’m only now starting to slowly realize that maybe, just maybe, there actually IS nothing you can’t do…

…Except, maybe, see 4 shows on the sixth night when you’re dog-tired.  I thought about it…I had a couple things dog-eared that COULD see…but Samurai was SUCH a high point to go out on, it was pretty easy to convince myself.  I ended up wandering to the beer tent (go home, you fucking idiot!) , and spent some time with Alison, director of Kurt Fitz’s great LAST STRAIGHT MAN IN THEATRE, and her hubby.  In which I got to see Lindsay Sutherland Boal sing opera, hear a terrifying tale of bats gone wild, and the rest of the usual shit that happens in the courtyard after dark.  I went home at midnight, and hopefully I will wake up in the morning.  By the grace of whomever, am I right..?

Oh, and that ‘Saucy Jack’ guy..?  Odd looking dude.  All I’m saying.  Nice hat, tho.
See you tomorrow,
The Visitor

(…whose real name is ‘Kevin’, that’s why that earlier joke works.  You all got that, right..?)


In Fringe Fest, Theatre on June 22, 2010 at 7:23 am

A quick aside to start this entry off…a couple days ago I read a review in the Ottawa Citizen of Barry Smith’s Fringe show EVERY JOB I’VE EVER HAD, by one Patrick Langston.  It was a negative review.  It was snide, and rude, and quite deliberately nasty.  A highlight is when Langston mentions how some’ others’ in the audience wished Smith would just have become an accountant, presumably instead of a performer.

Now, you don’t like the play, you don’t like the play, whatevah.  But if you’re gonna be a bitch about it (and a cowardly bitch at that, attributing your insults to nameless ‘others’ instead of fucking owning them yourself), then may I tersely retort, messr.Langston, that you are a bad, bad man, you ain’t got no class, and I hope zombie squirrels eat you alive from the toes on up.   With little, tiny spoons.  Jackass.   Bein’ mean to Barry Smith..?  Not on my watch, fuckface.

Seriously, how do you not love this guy??

Anyways.  On with the show!  I see from my obsessive watch on the stats counter that I’ve gettin’ some traffic over here.  Cool…but comment or something, willya, it’s creepy you just standing and staring like that.  Besides, that’s MY schtick.

Oh, and I was late for work today.  Saw THAT coming.  Don’t worry, all was well, and I’m still gainfully employed…which is lucky, as I bought another 10-show pass today…no ‘media pass’ for your poor, beloved Visitor, oh no.  I’m right there in the cheap seats with YOU, gentle reader.  Unless of course, you reading this in fact HAVE a media pass.  In that case, fuck you, reader, you spoiled bastard.  Later, though…there’s important stuff to get to.

Like the first show of tonight, LOVE IN THE TIME OF HARLEQUIN, from the good folks at Troupe de la Lune.  A short, quick-tongued comic piece riddled with bodice-ripping one-liners and a showload of sexual dysfunctions and frustrations.  It’s a feel-good dandy of a piece, well worth a viewing, and may even make you rethink your views on swords and gardens.

Next came one I wasn’t sure about, the mysterious MEN TELLING STORIES.  I didn’t know what to expect…but should have learned by now that ignorance is often a crucial ingredient for AWESOME.  Matt and Peter, the hyperactive storytellers at the heart of this comic /musical/self-help seminar tour de force, are two theatre buddies who have taken it upon themselves to help rid the world of excessive douchebaggery through the stage, and more power to them.  They had the audience in stitches of glorious comedy pain, and I can’t say a single bad thing about it.  Except, perhaps, for the annoying intrusion of loud music from without, threatening to drown the lads out…was it the Franco-Fest, I wondered, causing us auditory grief once again?

I found out when I left and wandered past the courtyard that, no, Franco’s wasn’t the fest we had to blame…it was THIS one.  Some jazz/lounge musical ensemble in the tent were playing, and they had everything cranked up to 11.  Now, I’m a punk rock man of old, so loud music doesn’t bother me per se…but do we REALLY need it so cranked in the courtyard I couldn’t even order a drink and still be heard?  When by doing so, you’re actively sabotaging the theatre space directly facing the stage??
It’s Fringe, guys, not Bluesfest.  Turn it down a shade, and let the players PLAY already.  Sheesh.
Where was I..?  Oh yeah, on to show number three.  This one had good buzz, so I had cautiously high hopes.  The premiere of THE SPUTNIKS, Elison Zasko’s one-woman show about a family of Russian Jews escaping the Motherland, with Canada their ultimate goal.  This one’s directed by madman and genius Jonno Katz, so it comes with a good pedigree.  As it started, Zasko was playfully weaving around the audience, handing out Gummi Bears, and generally being a good host.  What happened next…

It’s sometimes, if not always hard, to explain to someone just WHY you love theatre so much.  How it can affect you, what it does to you.  See The Sputniks, and you’ll know why I love theatre.  I laughed, smiled, marvelled at the performance she wove and, after it was over, I walked away to a quiet and dark spot to be alone, and I fucking cried.  THIS is why I love theatre.  Elison Zasko…damn.  I will adore you always, EZ, and be a fan forever.  Thank you.

So I needed a bit of a respite after THAT ride, and what better way to wind down after a tough day at the office than with a little razzle dazzle?  Yes, it was past time for Prairie Fire’s BURLESQUE UNZIPPED, one terribly charming woman’s guided tour through the much-ignored history of that great and misunderstood theatrical tradition.  She dances, informs, cracks a whip and may even blow your mind a little, if yer willing.    The Fire puts on a wicked fun show, and the final routine is pure magic (to say nothing of the use of ROCK BANG to play herself out…awesome).

Just a short stint at the beer tent for me this evening…it was a little chilly, and I was still a little burnt out from SPUTNIKS.  So I made my leave, got myself a nice bowl of Pho at home, and settled in to write this here thingamabobber and head to bed.  A very, very good night.  I’m making it official.

That’s it for day five…thanks again for all the traffic, and I hope those of you reading all this nonsense are getting some enjoyment out of it.  I’ll see you in the beer tent, keep on Fringing, and if you’re mean to Barry Smith I’ll put an exploding brick up your ass.
Yer pal as always,
The Visitor


In Fringe Fest, Theatre on June 21, 2010 at 8:03 am

It’s starting to get weird.

Oh, it’s not your fault, it’s mine (isn’t it always my fault..?)  I just never meant for things to go this FAST, is all.  I wanted to take my time, get to know you, maybe see if you liked British teevee as much as I do…but I just lost control at some point.  Things started spinning out of control.  And now…

…NOW, this goofy ‘blog’ of mine, that I originally intended as a series of Facebook notes on the Fringe until I saw Nancy Kenny’s WordPress blog and thought, ‘that’s a good idea!’ (So it’s all HER fault), and started this ‘visitorium’ thing up, is actually catching on.  It all started innocently enough…Ranting about theatre, reviewing shit here and there, even doing my years-late writeups of Fringes past.  And finally, we came to the reason for starting it, my daily reviews of Fringe 2010.  And I figgered, whatever, hopefully SOMEone will read it.

And now, I’m standing outside venues tonite and the likes of Sterling Lynch  and Nadine Thornhill are wandering up to me and saying, ‘hey, aren’t you that ‘visitorium’ guy’??

…Seriously, what the FUCK is going on??  They’re READING this shit?  They know what I look like, even?  There’s like, ONE terrible picture of me on this thing and I don’t even know how to find it!  Yet you all are finding me…Oh God…I’m gettin’ the sweats…

…ahh, that’s probably just the whiskey kicking in.  Where was I..?  Right, day four.  How time flies (see how I shifted gears there?)…except of course when you’re at work in a hot kitchen on brunch duty with a hangover all day, then time prefers slow, languorous walks on the fucking beach.  So believe me, I was counting the minutes til I could return to the Fest today.  I finally got the all clear and booted out by about 4:30, and made it just in time to catch the 5o’clock show of WHO YOU CALLIN’ SWEETHEART? , a Lead Pencil Productions put-on starring Celine Filion and Guy Buller.  And it was pretty god-damned charming!  Started out looking like a classic style spoof on film noir, but quickly spun in its own direction or two, and they even had a smoke machine!  They should lend that shit to PURELY CABARET, I think their act would be killer with a…but no, focus.  SWEETHEART… is a really fun show, with great actors hitting their lines like fuckin’ snipers.  I think I preferred Fillion a little, but that may just be her red dress talking.  I never said I was sophisticated.

Booted it from Academic Hall to a new venue for me, the Cajun Attic.  Cool looking place!  I ordered a 50, sat down, and awaited DIVINITY, a show playing only 4 times over 2 nights at Fringe.  I’d assumed that meant it was a must -see, somehow.  And…you know what? These kids meant well, and I think they had fun, and let’s just leave it at that, okay?  High five, DIVINITY, you put it out there.  I can respect that.

Getting my exercise tonight, I ran from the Attic to OLT for DELIVER’D FROM NOWHERE, a play by Tim Ginley.  I’ll tell you straight up, it was dynamite, and should-nay-MUST be seen.  I won’t tell you what it’s about, because I didn’t know what it was about when I went in, and I loved it, so really I’m doing you a favour.  Sterling Lynch stars, along with JP Chartier and Matt Smith.

No, the OTHER Matt Smith.

This show is a jackhammer to the coolness centers of your reptilian backbrain, and yes, that’s a compliment.  Lynch really shines in this’un, owning his sorta-modern-day-Peter-Pan character as he drags anyone he feels the need to down his own path of, basically, avoiding growing up.

Or that’s how I saw it…I could be wrong.  It’s still a great bloody show.  And nice acoustics in that studio..!

…which is good, because I was staying there for the Ottawa premiere of ARCHY AND MEHITABEL, a show starring gentleman Juff Culbert, and based on the works of Don Marquis, a NY newspaperman and fellow curmudgeon from way back when (think ‘roaring twenties’).  Worked around the notion of the friendship between Cockroach Archy and alley-cat Mehitabel (both reincarnated from humans), Culbert takes us on a pretty remarkable story/journey through insect, animal and human life, and with no more prop than a chair.  THAT is my kinda theater, and Messr.Culbert pulls it off without a hitch.  A great play by a great actor, don’t miss it.  I said it..!

I was gonna make it a 5-show night, no matter the cost, so I ran from OLT to the Lenny-Bo-studio for one of my most anticipated shows of fringe…Jayson MacDonald’s THE LAST GODDAMNED PERFORMANCE PIECE.  And especially tonite, because tonite was the extra-special NANCY KENNY version!  Nothing against regular LG-DPP actress Celine Fillion (from WHO YOU CALLIN’ SWEETHEART, remember??), but since, as previously mentioned, Kenny was the one responsible for me even starting a blog, I wanted to catch her in Fringe performance this year if possible.

And really, it’s physically impossible for me to say something bad about a show that has me crying with laughter before the show even starts. Kenny and her stagemate Ben Meuser (reveal!) take Jayson Mac’s play and make fucking magic, oscillating at will between pants-wettingly hysterical and pin-droppingly heartfelt.  It was a fantastic hour, and the only way any of us will get to see the Kenny in action unless you go to Morrisburg and catch her in THE AMOROUS AMBASSADOR, the new farce she’s starring in out there.  I’d like to see it myself, actually!  All I have to do is get my pedestrian ass to Morrisburg..!

In related news, you know what doesn’t go to Morrisburg..?  Fucking BUSSES, that’s what.

What is this place, the town that time forg….oh, right.

Well, whatever, the night’s shows were over, and time for the beer tent.  Finally, it was my time to blend into the shadows, stand and stare awkwardly, wish I were part of…
…oh, there’s Wayne!  I’ll say hi to him….and, hey, that’s Jeff Culbert from ARCHY AND MEHITABEL, and sure, I’ll talk to him for a spell…And hey, there’s Famous Actress Nancy Kenny!  Let’s walk over and..

…no, seriously, what the FUCK is going on here??



In Fringe Fest, Theatre on June 20, 2010 at 6:24 am

Hoo, I was feeling it a little this morning.  That’s the trouble with knowing you don’t work the next day, you forget that you still have to EXIST the next day.  And that sucks sometimes.

But onward!  I hauled myself out of bed, got treated to breakfast by my delightful Jammy, and scampered past the raindrops (of which there were suddenly a lot) down to Studio Leonard-Beaulne for show #9 of my Fringe, SHADOWS by Margo MacDonald.  And immediately after this packed-house show was done, I was stuck by a realization…I really wanted to just run back in and see it again.  It was BRILLIANT.  Margo’s has been a name to be reckoned with in Ottawa theatre for a while now, but this production should knock her a few orders of magnitude up the respect charts.  As Eva la Galliene, 20’s era theatre queen that MacDonald created the show to shine much-deserved light upon, Margo owns the stage…or at least co-owns, along with perfectly cast Sarah Finn as Eva’s lover Josephine Hutchinson.  The play moves around in time as it needs, showing us crucial clips of the actresses lives together, both on and off the stage that Gallienne so devoted herself to.

SHADOWS is somehow even more awesome than this promo image, shattering previously held records in the field of awesomeology.

SHADOWS is somehow even more awesome than this promo image, shattering previously held records in the field of awesomeology.

Pretty much astounding in every respect, SHADOWS is a bloody revelation.  Margo Mac is so supahcool she’s the lesbian SHAFT.  You’ll need to bring a sweater, this show is so cool! …except then you’ll have to take that sweater off, because things get really HOT, too.  This play is so good, it’s very difficult to dress correctly for!  And lo, a new theatrical paradgim is coined.

After that bit of bliss, it was off to next door to catch MIXING BOAL: KITCHEN OF THE OPPRESSED, an interactive show with maybe the neatest pre-show gimmick I’ve heard of in forever.  And the show, by Pirate Jenny’s Bronwyn Steinberg, gets off to a dandy start with a wicked-nifty musical number.  From there…

…well, from there it turned out that the whole thing is an elaborately staged improv show.  Which is…not for me.  And even though the staging WAS innovative, the concept intriguing, it always felt like it was just getting slower, and slower…and really, I’m just not improv guy, so this ain’t even fair.  Not that I don’t respect the ‘prov as a skill, doubtlessly crucial for any stage performer to have at hir command.  But seeing an improv show has always seemed to me like going to a restaurant and paying full price to watch the chefs do prep.  It’s my foible, my bias, and sorry, Boal-ers, I’m doing you no justice.

But still, awesome opening number.  Total fucking props for that bit!

Off next, not to a show, but to my secret rendezvous in the courtyard, alluded to yesterday.  Thanks to a personal invite from Ottawa theatre ninja Pat Gauthier, yours truly was on his way to the big leagues.  That’s right, ladies and gents…I’d been invited to the THEATRE BLOGGERS WINE AND CHEESE X-TRAVAGANZA!!!

..okay, they didn’t call it an ‘extravaganza’, that was my bit.  But there was booze and cheese, you bet!  And you’d better believe I stuffed myself with as much as two hands could cram into a waiting orifice, as taught by the prophet Henry Rollins.  All right, it wasn’t exactly the social event of the season, or even the week, but I DID get to rub elbows with my fellow bloggers (and oh, what wrong turns I must have made in my life to be referring to others as ‘my fellow bloggers’…sigh), elbow patches and all.  I chatted a bit with Kurt Fitzpatrick, the last straight man in theatre, and Wayne C.  Met Jamine the Yoga Teacher and Evan Thornton , and even got to high-five with Margo Mac herself!!  The result of which is I am now 10% cooler.

After a few beers and enough free cheese to kill a baby shark, I ambled to my next show, part one a much-anticipated Royal Oak BYOV 2-bill, THE PIG OF HAPPINESS.  Much anticipated because I would get to drink during both shows!

I drink alcohol, that’s the dumb running joke here.

But something was amiss…no volunteers outside or in, an empty venue room downstairs…I soon discovered that the show had, in fact, been cancelled. (And I still dunno why).  So I had to scramble to find a new show (a kinda fun thrill, really, at the Fringe…like being shot in the face with a shotgun blast of…the unexpected!! …okay, weird metaphor) in that time slot…me and Jammy finally settled on something called THE PETER N’ CHRIS SHOW because, well, it was closest.  That’s about it…it was a show I hadn’t really planned on seeing, and had zero expectations for.

It promptly kicked my ass.  Stars Peter Carlone and Chris Wilson make some magic on that there stage, the kind I’d only hoped to see again anytime soon.  It was like watching two Jayson MacDonalds tear through a wacky comic-theatrical choose-your-own-adventure story.  These cats have timing like a caesium clock, and seem to be powered by a combination of pure imagination and enriched-uranium pop rocks.   Out-fucking-standing.

Buoyed by this good fortune, I ran on back to the Oak (while the Jammy stayed behind to catch herself some Lindsay Boal stylings in PURELY CABARET) for my other show planned there, this one happily NOT cancelled, BEER TENT: REFLUX.  An insider show/roast put on by local theatre whores Kel Parsons and David Whitely, and chock full of mile-a-minute snipes, jabs and slanders at whichever suckers provide convenient targets in the Ottawa theatre community.  I managed to spot a few more references this year than last (this is a sequel show, by the by), tho I could tell by the enormous laughs from the likes of Gauthier and Carroll in the audience that I certainly wasn’t an insider myself just yet, wine and cheese aside.  But that’s okay.  I still dug it, just like last year.  Besides, I could drink during the show..!

From there it was on to my last show of the evening (I was calling it an early nite to pace myself, because the older I get the more of a pussy I seem to become), THE PRISONER’S DILEMMA.  This one I’d been looking forward to, not inconsiderably because I’d become quite chummy with Director Wayne C. over the so-far short course of this year’s Fringe…a ‘fellow blogger’, swell guy, longtime friend of my Jammy, and one of the first people ever to bother reading THIS site, he paints a wise picture of himself as he goes, and I had high hopes for his show.  Afterwards, he saw me in the courtyard, zoomed in, and eagerly asked me what I’d thought.  I told him I’d really liked it.

And SO sorry, dude, I was lying my ass off.  Really, I’m SO, so sorry.  I just couldn’t be that..I couldn’t SAY…

Okay.  In the yard, Wayne mentioned that the show ‘wasn’t for everyone’. ..?   It turns out I’m ‘everyone’.  And I will say no more than that, because I’ve avowed that this chud will try and accentuate the positive, because I fucking LOVE the theatre, like, with a newbie’s love. So, aside from mentioning that Fully Fringed dug them some PD (and they’re likely much smarter than me),  I will leave off with this …

That is one Sexy-Ass poster you got there, my man. Take a bow!

So now that I’ve stabbed poor Wayne in the back (it was a sold-out show, he’ll get over it), it’s time for me to hit they hay.  Five more shows tomorrow, and plenty of whiskey and red bull left.  And after only the third day, I’ve high-fived Margo Fucking MacDonald.  Where, oh were shall I go from here..?

See you there,
the Visitor


In Fringe Fest, Theatre on June 19, 2010 at 7:44 am

Now it’s getting real.  And by that, I mean now I’m noticing how weak I’ve gotten in the last year.  One late 4-AM night and suddenly I’m getting tired near the end of my workday?  It’s all this soft living, and it has got to go.  Still, I woke up today feeling strong, biked to work, and later to the Fringe, and despite some early drowsiness made it to my first show with time to spare.

That first show, or show #5 for this Fringe for those keeping count (you all are, right?) was PURELY CABARET, by Esby Kabaret Productions.  The brainchild of one delectable Miss Lindsay Sutherland Boal, and starring herself and her pianist Elisabeth Scholtz, the show is an hour of Cabaret classics from the Weimar Republic, a period of parliamentary rule in Germany reaching from approx.1919-1933

Or as historians call it, that sliver of the early 20th century when Germany didn’t suck so bad

..most songs were  in English, tho with a few German-language originals thrown in.  Boal is perfectly at ease regardless.  A few personal asides from her notwithstanding (charming though they are), most of the show is a nonstop cavalcade of tunes from Lindsay’s opera-trained voice, from raucous ballads to chest-pounding sturm-und-drang emotional grinders, and she seems to feel every emotion intended at top volume.  I remember exactly the moment she had me…when I became putty in her hands, and when you will too, if you see this show.  If not earlier, it could be earlier, true…but when Jenny makes up her mind..?  You’re DONE.
Lindsay’s voice is a finely tuned instrument, and NOT a delicate one.  I’m pretty sure she could deliver a Mortal-Kombat-style finishing move with her high range falsetto if confronted in a dark alley.  Girl’s got pipes, is all I’m sayin’.

Here’s an aside…you ever plot out your Fringe shows for the night, and set out to seeing them, only to notice that some gaggle of total strangers has fluked out and also plotted the EXACT same set of shows, and you end up seeing them everywhere you go?  That happened tonite.  Which is fine, and it allowed me to overhear something about this show a little later on.  Namely, the notion that if Lindsay had only worked harder, especially given her theatrical background, she could have turned this into a genuine SHOW about Weimar, using the music as a base, rather than just a collection of songs.  And to that, I can only reply the following: I absolutely agree.  It’s true.

And if Lindsay Sutherland Boal had wings, she could fly.  The point isn’t what sort of show someone could have made out of this material…it’s how good was THIS show, being what it was, and what it is?  And what it is, my friends and enemies, is exactly what the name says…purely cabaret. You want a play made out of it?  Write it your fucking self, and quit channelling Gladys Kravitz already.

Pardon my tone, but I’ve been overhearing entirely too much kvetching and moaning in the first two days of this fringe, and it is starting to vex me.  I’m coming close to writing entirely unkind things about some, and I don’t wish to do that.  Instead, I’ll just remind everyone of that famous old quote by civil war historian and amateur tachyonologist Maximillian Optimus Jones :

‘Fringe is awesome.  Shut the fuck up and enjoy it, already.’

Thanks, Max.  And just in time, ‘cause I have to boot it to The Arts Court Library (my first visit this Fringe to this claustrophobic location) for the premiere of UNDERNEATH IT ALL from 1331 Productions.  Written and directed by a Scotswoman by the name of Catriona Grozier (Catriona being an already classic Fringe-name), it’s the story of two office workers who end up stuck in the same closet with each other at a party…and they hate each others guts.  Which sounds horribly sitcom-esque, although they go fun places with it.  There’s an immediate staging problem, though…half the scenes feature the two mains sitting on the floor…and as anyone who’s ever seen a show in the bookless library will tell you, if someone is sitting on stage?  You can’t see them past the second row.  So there’s that.  The leads are strong…not amazing, but strong.    Though there IS some killer dialogue in there…if you’re looking for something terrible to call a recently ex-lover, this is the show for you.  And the set is lovely.

Off then at a run (sorry, Crystalline Entity, I didn’t end up checking in with you at SAW..!) to Café Alt….I wanted to get there early so I could make sure to get in, because I suspected this next show might sell out.  Which I’m pretty sure it did.  The show being CACTUS: THE SEDUCTION by someone called Jonno Katz.  And to this show I can only say…what a fucking waste of time.

Seriously!  What a total waste of my time, writing a review to a Jonno Katz show.  It’s god-damned JONNO KATZ.  It’s like writing a review of a Bowie album, or Superman punching out a meteor.  Who cares?  We KNOW it’s awesome, just give it to us already!!  GIVE IT!!

Just do it.

All on the same page?  Then let’s speed off (and I mean speed, because Jonno ran long…he does like to improvise) to the classic Arts Court Theatre, for IT’S RAINING IN BARCELONA.  Translated from an original play by one Pau Miro, who is maybe from Barcelona..?  I dunno.  But it’s a dandy by Bundle of Joy Productions, a story of a prostitute with a thirst for knowledge, her pimp, her client, and where that takes us all…I won’t reveal more except for that the performances were punch-to-the-chest fantastic.  I’m still catchin’ my breath..!  Tho that may be partly due to the excessive drinking and the long bike ride home.   But what’s a pulmonary infarction or two among friends?

As insinuated, I retired then to the beer tent, and happily met up with me old workmate Patty.  We drank and danced until after last call, long enough for me to get an extremely intriguing invitation (more on that next time), and the looming threat of my potential 7-show day.  I don’t know if I can do it.  I don’t know if I WANT to do it.  But I just spotted that the Fringe website itself has started actively linking to me (and please, call me Visitor…only my Mum calls me ‘Kevin’), so I guess I should at least LOOK like I’m trying hard.

Oh, and by the way…yesterday was June the 18th.  Which makes it the second anniversary of the time in my life when I absolutely did not give a shit about theatre.  Two years and one day ago from me writing this, I had never voluntarily seen a play in my life.

Then I wandered into the Fringe Festival.  And I’ll see you tomorrow, won’t I?

The Visitor…and here I am.