Actually had a good night’s sleep last night. Okay, all four hours of it, but you take what you can get when you’re Fringing, am I right? Point is, I felt good and strong today, which is a welcome change from this time last year. Got thru my workday unscathed, had time to chill at a coffeeshop plotting out some future moves (and moves there will be, oh yes…), before sliding on down the home base at Arts Court for another full night of shows. There may be no rest for the wicked, but there’s plenty of wicked theatre to see. Yeah, I went there.
First up tonight was SUBNORMALITY from the ever reliable Troupe de la Lune, and based on the webcomic of the same name by Winston Rowntree. Set in a bar, the show follows a group of disparate characters through their thoughts (sometimes literally) on love, self-worth, relationships of all stripes and a few more nifty topics. I didn’t catch a program, so although I can list all the actors from the facebook event (Bret Newton, Shannon Riley, Tess McManus, Marie Robertson, John Newton, Katie Curnow, Alexandra Janvier and Graeme Pente), I can’t exactly place them with their characters. Except for Tess McManus, who I remember from Youth Infringement shows like L’ASCENSEUR and QUEEN FOR A DAY. She shines as brightly as I’d expected in her roles here, as do several others (whoever plays the gal by the trash bin, and the two dudes at the bar come to mind). Some of the performances are pretty rough around the edges, but still fun. And Rowntree’s verbose stylings made for an interesting choice for a play…pretty natural, actually. It’s a smart, short and fun show, worth a look. And all the proceeds for this one are going to Jer’s Vision, as an added incentive.
After a quick-ish stopoff in the Courtyard for some Butter Chicken, it was off to Cafe Alt for what surely must be the most hotly anticipated sequel to hit the Ottawa Fringe this year…PETER N’ CHRIS SAVE THE WORLD. There was a packed house for opening nite, so I wasn’t the only one eagerly awaiting their return after last year’s killer PETER N’ CHRIS SHOW. And fuck it, they went and hit it out of the park just like I’d expected them to, but in predictably unpredictable ways. Peter Carlone and Chris Wilson play with the conventions of theatre and Fringe like a cat plays with a wounded mouse, and it’s even more entertaining to watch if you can believe that. The lads are still masters of physical comedy, staging, and whatever else they need to be masters of at that moment to be diaper-soakingly hilarious. There ARE a couple of bits from this show that are lifted quite shamelessly from their LAST show, but fuck it, they’re still funny. Compost, Inner demons and the fragility of modern libraries…it’s al here.Check it out, and get there early.
Right across the venue-path then, for a double bill at…the SAW Gallery? Oh fuck. Sorry, but that place is uncomfortable as all get-out. Ah, well. Thank goodness there was something like Katie Hood‘s THE ANIMAL SHOW to negate any ill effects straightaway. As mentioned previously, one-woman shows are my fav’rit form of entertainment, so I was excited to see Ms.Hood’s show, especially after meeting her in the courtyard (thankfully…I’ve met so few new people this Fringe! Sad…), and realizing she was a pretty fantastickal person. Her show is…well, it is many things. Beautiful,yes. Heartwarming, easy. Heart-BREAKING, yeah, that too. Funny, check. DOUBLE check.
Katie tells her stories as a worker at an animal rescue shelter with minimal set and all her heart and soul (with help from Director Paul Hutcheson, currently in town for CANUCK CABARET). Told mostly from her point of view , but occasionally switching seamlessly into other acerbic characters from the tale with the kind of talent that tells you Katie Hood is for REAL. I fell madly in love with THE ANIMAL SHOW about five minutes in and never looked back. Also, I vowed to hug Winston REAL good when I finally got home that nite. It’s an instant fav’rit of mine, and if you don’t go and see it, then you probably club baby seals in your spare time. I hope you’re happy, douchebag.
Stuck to the SAW for the final show of the night (by now hanging out with such extraordinaries as the adorkable ™ Nadine Thornhill and visiting Fringe superstar Kurt Fitzpatrick) , Brent Hirose’s THE SUCKERPUNCH. A one-manner, SUCKERPUNCH tells a twisted story of regrets and the lengths we’ll go to get rid of them via a sci-fi storyline involving a new time travel technology, and four or five variously related characters whose storylines slowly intertwine. Definitely ambitious.
I don’t wanna give away much more about the story, just to say that Hirose is an obviously talented, TALENTED performer, and he puts on one helluva show. He owns his stage, rattles off scientific gobbledygook AND slam poetry with equal finesse, and can apparently spin like a god-damned top if required. It was a really good show, and I’d love to see him get together with a killer director or dramaturge and juice a few parts up a bit, punch up some characterization, and push the whole thing to the next level. Because this show has a next level waiting, I tells ya, and when it gets there, it’ll be on the front page of every paper in the land. In the meantime, go see it, because it’s the right thing to do.
That was it for me tonite…too wiped to hang at the beer tent (sorry Kurt, I’ll buy you one tomorrow!)…I’ll be back at the Fringe tomorrow to mostly hang out in the beer tent all night, after a very mightily anticipated show indeed at the coolest venue of this year’s Fringe. See you there, eh? Peace, love and soul, Fringers,
Kevin and Winston