Aha! What a night. Bear with me folks, I think this…this one may not make a lot of sense. I’m hungry, and have had a few too many to drink, and what the Heck, do I get paid for this or something? In fact, I’m REALLY hungry, and all my bread has gone as green as the Hulk (no, obviously NOT the Hulk when he was grey you NERDS..!), so all I have in my house to eat is MORE BEER. This could get ugly.
But let’s back up, back to a silly day of drudgery at the salt mines that ended with a rather foolishly rapid consumption of a pulled pork sandwich, followed rapidly by an apple turnover, followed rapidly by OH GOD WHY DID I EAT SO MUCH??? I bussed home and tried to nap it off, convinced I would never eat again, before I eventually had to hop right back on the transpo to head down to the Gladstone for the night’s festivities. Naturally, right about the time I jumped OFF the bus, my tummy started growling. Ah, well. Who needs to eat when you’ve got theatre, right?
Stumbled into the Gladstone, past the ubiquitous Tess McManus at the box office (And I was totally going to do a bit just now on how I keep meeting her but she doesn’t recognize me? Like at the GCTC a few weeks ago? But she just figgered it out and Facebooked me, so…well, there’s THAT bit spoiled. Way to kill the joke, McManus!)
…you know what would be a great name for a 70’s cop show..? ‘ McManus‘. Someone should invent time-travel and get on that. Where was I..?
Right, the Gladstone! Venerable Ottawa Theatre cats Black Sheep have gotten on board the Gladstone train, and made their debut with ’33 – A KABARETT, written by and starring the bloody amazing Bremner Duthie, and directed by local hero Dave Dawson. Having seen two of his shows previously, THE PIG OF HAPPINESS and WHISKEY BARS, I already knew that Bremner had a major Love Jones for the Weimar era of German music, specifically Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill. And this beautiful piece, set in a ruined theatre during the rise of the Nazi regime, acts as an almost-sequel to WHISKEY BARS, which featured a Cabaret singer prepping backstage for his comeback. In ’33, we begin with a performer emerging onto the stage in darkness, shaking, terrified, scanning the remnants of his stage with a flashlight, and surprised to discover an audience, waiting for a show. And what a show we do get, based loosely on the real-life fate of the ElDorado Theatre.
Torn between an urgent desire to flee and the ‘show must go on’ impulse, Bremner’s emcee character reluctantly tells us the story of his Kabarett’s fall at the hands of authoritarianism, through song, dance, and a little more song. And the songs…folks, you have not LIVED until you’ve heard Bremner Fletcher Duthie sing ‘Mack the Knife’ to you. He has a gift for taking these classics and weaving them beautifully into his plays, and he’s getting better and better at it, from what I can tell. With a few costume changes, musings on the nature of art vs. the state, and a goddamn gorgeous voice, Bremner guides us through despair and terror, oppression and hopelessness, and into something else entirely…it’s all really quite beautiful to behold. Shows like this don’t happen very often, folks.
The show, one Bremner Duthie has toured on the Fringe circuit already, is being partially double-billed with another Dawson directed show, Jayson MacDonald’s THE LAST GODDAMNED PERFORMANCE PIECE as part of Black Sheep Theatre’s BLACK BOX series. Starring Ben Meuser and Celine Fillion, who performed the same show in the 2010 Ottawa Fringe festival, I can promise ya it’s worth sticking around for (I’ll be back next week to see it again, because…why the Heck not?). And more on the rest of the amazing Black Box lineup later, which I’ll be there for every minute of…for now, just get yourself to the Gladstone to catch ’33, because you’ll be mighty glad you did (and you can even pick up a CD afterwards!). Peace, love and soul,
The Visitor (and Winston)