the Blue Box from Missoula

Has it been a slow week?   I don’t seem to have posted in a while, but then again, I haven’t had a spare minute in which TO post anything.  This month makes no God damned sense to me.  Aren’t there, like, fifty shows going on?  How have I only seen one in the last week??
And here I am, trying to write a quick few words ABOUT said show, even though for Ottawa purposes, it’s far too late, as they were in town for one night only (and the following day for a supercool-sounding creation workshop).  The folks in question were Donna Sellinger, Madeline Ffitch and Sarah Lowry, better known as The Missoula Oblangata, who brought us (via Miss Emily Pearlman) their show THE FATHER OF…no, wait.  THE TIME MOTION DAUGHTER OF…

Oh fine.  Hang on, I’ll go find the piece of paper.

…aaand, right.  It’s THE DAUGHTER OF THE FATHER OF TIME MOTION STUDY, because if you’re playing in a church basement, who needs a name that fits on a marquee?  As already name-dropped, Emily Pearlman of Ottawa’s own MiCasa Theatre had a major hand in bringing the Baltimore-based Oblangata to our shores, having lent her directorial skillz to putting the finishing touches on their show.  The MO gals have a very collaborative, DIY approach to their theatre, and once you see one of their shows boyoboy, they’re not kidding.  The set consisted of a mad blue cabinet…very odd that the show was hosted at the same venue as this Fringe’s LIVE FROM THE BELLY OF A WHALE, making St.Pauls THE space for blue cabinet-based Theatre in the province!

Third time’s the charm..?  Anybody?

And actually, this particular blue cabinet did indeed at times seem to be hella bigger on the inside…from its mysterious, handmade depths sprang enough storytelling material to fill about ten plays, but the gals contented themselves to a mere hour or so of mind-boggling entertainment.  The story revolved around a Bridge builder and his love, an efficiency expert who had mastered the 14 (or was it 18?  I kinda forget now) hand movements that somehow, magically lead to great things.  And then there was her Mother the explorer, who left her husband for a walrus, plus an overly charming robot, a hole in the ice (yes, that was a character), a pair of bioethicists offering poor advice at a conference, and of course, the bridge.  All of this led to questions of efficiency, love, and just why do bridges fall down?

The story really took a backseat to the storyTELLING, and in a big way.  The Missoula gals use every trick in the book to bring their ideas to life, and the things that popped out of that little blue box were just amazing.  From the puppet-penguin in the opening scene (who charmed the living shit out of me, I might add) to the lunchbox-laptop diorama, a half-dozen lights swinging and hanging anywhere they could manage …sometimes even being handed off to audience members to act as impromptu assistants.  The whole set looked like it was barely holding together, and could collapse at any moment, but she held true.  And heck, this thing wasn’t some stationary installment, it had miles on it.  This thing TRAVELLED (and the TARDIS similarities just keep piling up…)!

The show was just what I’d hoped it would be…charming, imaginative, emotional, beautiful (the final scene got me misty indeed, something I’m always thankful for).   It was more fun than so many shows I’ve seen with a hundred times its budget, and by golly, it just goes to show ya.  I was surely sore that I would have to miss that creation workshop they were holding the next day (my Fringe-mate Rich Hemphill went, and I’ll have to grill him for details next time I see him).  I wish the MO well on the rest of their tour, and if they cross your path, for flip’s sake, check them out!  This is some goodness, folks.

Oh, and there’s singing too.  I almost forgot.  That’s good too.  I’m rambling!  And I have another post to write tonite, so…great show, go see it, done.  Peace, lvoe and soul, Missoula,

The Visitor (and Winston)

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