As is often the case these days, I’m a little under the gun with this post. REALLY should have written and posted these reviews last night, but I didn’t get home til after midnight, and I just don’t have those Fringe-levels of reckless energy at my disposal just yet (Curious aside..less than TWO MONTHS UNTIL FRINGE!!!). And now I have two reviews to try and write up before I have to leave the homestead I only just got back to after work, to head out to my third show of the week. Which I’ll then have to try and review before going to bed, or I’ll be right back in the same stoopid position tomorrow. No WONDER people try and get paid for this jazz.
Yesterday WAS, I must say, a solid Theatre day. Lunch with Adorkable ™ Nadine Thornhill and visiting Ottawa expatriate Nancy Kenny (more on her in a few moments) was as delightful as it sounds. Then I had the privilege of sitting in on some rehearsal time with New Theatre of Ottawa as they worked on a few pieces from their upcoming EXTREMELY SHORT PLAY FESTIVAL. What I saw looked pretty cool…but more on THEM in another post (and don’t forget to enter the Extremely Short Story Competition too, over on Aronovitch‘s Blog!).
Then I had a brief, weird thing where it seems like I may have made a date…with a GIRL…which I’m fairly certain I must have imagined, so let’s just move on. What else did I do that day..?
Right, Theatre! That’s a thing that I do! And yesterday was the premiere of Evolution Theatre‘s ambitious double-bill production of Berni Stapleton’s MARY MAGDALENE AND ADVENTURES IN SOBRIETY, and Darren O’Donnell’s [boxhead]. I had an inkling of what to expect, having interviewed Both Casts a few weeks earlier about the shows. At least, I thought I had an inkling. But as soon as I stepped into the Arts Court venue, I realized they had more than a few surprises waiting.
The first part of the bill was MARY MAGDALENE, a solo show starring Nancy Kenny (Who I mentioned already, remember? That’s called Foreshadowing!) and following the highly engrossing personal misadventures of an alcoholic street person who claims to be the actual Mary Magdalene, still around after all this time, and looking a little rough around the edges. The show starts off at a nice, manic pace, and one can quickly see why Nancy Kenny was so keen on this show, and this character in particular, as it seems tailor-made just for her. The part fits her like a glove, and director Andy Massingham has crafted a particularly impressive show (with some ace help from designers Pierre Ducharme, Jess Preece and Steven Lafond) around her.
Following Mary as she rushes headlong from one boozer to another, bonds with a potted plant, and tries to come to grips with maybe the most famous personal loss in religious history, MM is an often absolutely hilarious show that also damn near had me in tears by the end. You really can’t help but completely adore the character Nancy and Andy create for us, stumbling often blind as she does through the 10 commandments, the 12 steps of AA, and however many stations of the Cross she decides is correct that day. It’s a wonderful and utterly human performance, and a really fun and exciting production of Stapleton’s terrific script, balancing cheekily on the edge of blasphemy for most of its hourlong running time.
And let me just get it out of the way…yes, I’m biased. Nancy’s a dear pal (certainly Winston the Cat has a soft spot for her), and I was really excited to see her in this. So if you don’t believe me when I say she blew me away and made me all proud and stuff, then that’s totally fair enough. Or, no, wait…fuck you. That’s what I meant to say…Fuck you, Nancy was flat-out AMAZING, and that’s that!
This show easily would have been entertainment enough to have justified Evolution’s ticket price, but they weren’t done. By a LONG shot. And since it turns out I won’t have time to write the second review right now after all, I’ve split this one up (it WAS 2 shows, after all), and will be back later tonite to finish up with a look at [boxhead]. So hats off to the MARY M gang, for what is easily one of my new fav’rit shows this year, and it’ll be one of yours too. An absolute joy. Go now, and tell Nancy the Visitor sent you. She’ll know what it means. Peace, love and soul,
The Visitor (and Winston)