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.
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!
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 …
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,
I’m here on Wayne’s recommendation and I got say — reading about your Fringe escapades is cracking my shit up. Even though PD wasn’t your tin of soup, I’m glad you dig the poster. And high fiving Margo makes you at *least* 17% cooler. 🙂
Just got around to reading this. I would be a pretty lousy critic if I couldn’t take a little criticism. I’m always interested to hear what people think about a show. You can never be all things to all people but I’m thrilled that Prisoner’s Dilemma found its audience and we were fortunate to have large houses for our entire run.
I’m going to write about the feedback I got from the show in a blog post. I found it really intriguing. Keep blogging.