Today my streak of good fortune continued as my rear bike tire decided that flat was better than round, and suddenly it’s ‘walk your bike to work day’. What the Hell, at least it’s more honest than ‘Family Day’. I’ve been getting used to the idea that life in general has it in for me. I’m that kind of uplifting fellow. So much so that, there was his weird, one-night only theatre thing going on tonite…at Emily Pearlman’s house, if you can believe that, and I’d drunkenly signed up on Facebook that I wanted to attend. But let’s face it, there was no way yours truly was getting the green light for anything THAT cool, and…
…and as I illicitly checked my facebook shit at work (no sense working every hour God sends, Albert Finney wisely reminds us all), it turns out I was wrong. Again. Not only had smooth Tim Oberholzer commented on my blog, and I found out someone had actually read my super-secret Anti-Denis Armstrong rant from earlier this week (blink and ya missed it, kids), but the talented and deeliteful Emily Pearlman had graciously given me the go-ahead to come on along to the killer night ahead! Me! I was stunned, I was floored, I was…what the fuck was going on again..?
Right…a DIY punk theatre group from Baltimore, doing some such…ok, fine. I’ll be there. BYOB? Taken care of! As IF I needed another excuse to enable my borderline alcoholism! And Baltimore? Well, that town manages to turn out some pretty epic shit, so I was hopeful. Homicide? John Waters?
Showed up at the perfectly wunnerful Pearlman residence a shade early as is my wont, and tried my best to mix with the crowd. Which is to say, I stood awkwardly stock-still in a corner and blushed brightred if anyone spoke in my direction. There was a memorably dorkish moment where I tried to speak to Cari Leslie, of this year’s MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM park production, that ranks among my more splendidly hilarious breakthroughs in social failure. Sorry, Cari…you were the bomb as Puck, yo.
But still, I managed to hammer out a few chiselled words with some of the Salamander gang…thank goodness Garrett Quirk recognized me fom the Royal Oak earlier in the evening. And Miss Emily herself is a brilliant hostess, and her COUNTRIES co-star Nick DiGaetano happily remembered me from our meeting at SUMMERWORKS. Also, there was liquor. That got me through to showtime.
Showtime itself was a bit of a revelation. Seems what we were in for tonite was one of a 37 city madcap tour from a gang calling themselves the BALTIMORE ANNEX THEATRE,and a show called, among other things, A FISTFUL OF FLOWERS. The Annex, much like Emily and Nick’s MiCasa Theatre, will play pretty much anywhere, and this evening they were putting that ideology to the test by staging their show in Emily’s living room. I got a seat (or squat, on a carpet in the middle of the room) right near the action to come, and right in front of the Annex’s central lighting-rig/thingamajig. It promised to be a good, fun time, if my back and butt could hold out.
What ensued when the show began was nothing short of the kind of theatrical magick every good boy and girl can only dare to dream of. Our musical narrator, a grand gent named…Gerry? Am I remembering that right, Annex..?…started us off by blowing the whole room away with throat singing straight out of dreamtime, and the story got underway. Villainous Dupont (Rick Gerriets), clad in classic black, and armed with any number of absurd objects that, under pressure, could become a lethal weapon with the help of a well-placed snare drum, embarks on his evil mission. His nemesis, the stalwart Lee Matthews (played by the darlin’ Kaitlin Murphy, and I’ll take my heart back anytime, thanxverymuch), sets out to get her man.
From there, it’s brilliant comic chaos. It will obviously vary from show to show depending on the venue, but in a cramped quarter like Em’s drawing room, it was nothing short of wonderful. The Annex gang step over and through the audience like the pros they are as the weave the musical, mythical tale Evan Moritz’s story encompasses. Killer laughs, smiling cactii, banana rocks, a use of the space that makes you imagine Feng Shui’s smarter older brother…this is all very particular to my own experience, at this show, and fuck you, that’s all I know, all right? There was a moment…the lights went down, and one of the cast (Freda, I believe) was singing one of her several positively beautiful songs, and a lone flashight was shining, through Rick Gerriets’ hair, right towards where I was sitting. All I could see was the forelit profile he was giving, and it was one of the most amazing moments I’ve ever experienced in theatre. A goddam privilege. If this show is coming to your town, cancel whatever crappy plans you had that day. Your kids can get themSELVES home from soccer practice for once, the ungrateful bastards. This is important.
The show finally came to a close (and I only say ‘finally’ because I had to take a killer slash and had a charley horse that would have made Cal Ripkin cringe…like I say, experiences will vary), and…and that wasn’t the end. We all applauded, and tossed some cash in the hat for these awesome cats, and…and that wasn’t the end! I hung around, and, buoyed by an amazing show and more than a little booze…I talked! I talked plenty, with lots of the great folk from Annex, and what a cool bunch they were. Tim, Sarah, Rick, Evan, Gerry, Kaitlin *sigh*…It was a great, great night, and I needed one of those. I bought a poster, I passed my mini-bottle of Jack Daniels around before it was time for me to go, and with regret, I eventually took my leave. I wish I could’a stayed. I wish THEY could have stayed. I wish their show were playing here for two weeks, and I hope they come back. Fucking best theatre night in Ottawa this year. Nominations closed. Thank you, Baltimore. Miss ya already. Good luck in Detroit, and come back soon,