Had a rough go of it this daytime. Felt exhausted, dispirited, and generally all-around malaisacal (yay, new word!). It’s starting to occur to me that, if I’m gonna keep up with this acting class jazz, it can’t continue to be my only workout of the week. Because, manoman, are my legs SORE the days following. Also, ingesting something other than noodle soup and whiskey might be a thought.
But in spite of my mood AND the gray weather, I managed to haul my butt onto a long-ass bus ride down to Sandy Hill and Ottawa U for tonite’s performance by their Drama Guild of Peter Barnes’ RED NOSES. I’m always psyched to see a show in the lovely Academic Hall, a wonderful showspace. And a mere 15 bones for a damn-near 3 hour live show? Beat THAT value! Ya know the Visitor loves himself a theatrical bargain.
Barnes’ story, directed here by Lib Spry, centers around the 14th century priest Flote, struggling to find a way to ease the suffering brought on by the plague. Medicine and religion seem to have failed mankind, so after a revelation, Flote hits upon his path…don a red nose and make’em laugh. It takes some doing…the church has to be convinced to back his plan, and he needs a few more zanies for his red nose troupe. Then there’s his competition for the people’s attention: dedicated flagellant Grez, seeking to embrace the pain of life, and the morbid ‘black ravens’, trying to use the plague itself to further their own ends. And the Pope and the gold merchants also have their OWN ideas.
It’s a pretty smart, deep show, and the Ottawa U gang pull it off with the usual flair and passion (as in last year’s OUR COUNTRY’S GOOD, another winner). Vincent Leblanc-Beaudoin nails it as Father Flote, providing the singing, dancing, japing glue that holds everything together. His counterpart Father Toulon (Cody Zulinski) makes a great foil…assigned by the Archbishop as a sort of medieval Scully to Flote’s Mulder, Toulon is hilarious as the unwilling member of the ‘Floties’. Nicholas Amott and Martin Glassford , both from this year’s amazing Youth Infringement show SWEET LITTLE NOTHINGS, both shine as out-of-work soldiers who sign up with Flote. Another YI star (this time for the fest-winning SACRED SITES IN SUBURBIA), Madeleine Boyes-Manseau, helps round out Flote’s starting troupe as almost TOO loving sister Margueritte. And really, there’s plenty of standouts and scene stealers here…Mike Kosowan’s gleefully nasty Pope Clement, Garret Brink’s lusty Pellico, Danielle Savoie’s wicked Scarron, and of course Fraser Mackinnon as the wonderfully Harpo-esque Master Bells. And hey, Ted Forbes is back in this one! With the other two I saw in the audience, tonite was almost a full-on PIRATE JENNY’S CIRCUS reunion! That can only be a good omen.
But as I said, it’s a deep show, and the laughs are only part of the fun. They Do end up committing the crime of making the audience think, in between the pratfalls, innuendos and dances. After all, clowns are fine to ease the hard times when the suffering is inevitable. But when things change, and the suffering becomes intentional…
I hope everyone who is able will get out to catch one of the last two performances of this dandy show. I know a lot of folks tend to prefer the more professional and polished shows, but I have a piece of advice for those people…fuck that shit. Seeing the students, the up-and-comers, the amateurs strut their stuff and lay it on the line is watching the beating heart of theatre. Also, the seats in Academic Hall are really comfy now. AND they have cupcakes.
That’s it…it’s late, I’m tired and have to work tomorrow. If you’re not convinced yet, you’re a heartless bastard. Which means you could probably use some laughter. I can recommend a good priest for that…
Peace, love and soul, you lot,
The Visitor (and Winston)