— MORE POWER TO YOUR KNITTING, NELL! — DANTI-DAN — VERNUS SAYS SURPRISE — AERIAL ALLUSIONS — FALLEN: THE BOOK OF SAMAEL —
After a grimly enforced night off, I got back to the Fringe action tonight, the fifth day of the fest. And Monday is always the ‘second wave’ day of the Fringe, when performers from out of town (usually folks from Montreal Fringe, this year London) arrive and debut a shitload of shows. So it was today and so it was with TEAM VISITORIUM too, with latecomers Amanda Klaman and Nadine Thornhill making the scene for the first time. I somehow managed five shows tonight, ate four mini-burgers, had a few drinks with awesome people, saw Bremner Duthie changing clothes in a washroom, and am now this much closer to having a working version of my new one man show, “How you want your eggs, Shugah?“, ready for the public. Oh, and I totally won an award. Stay Tuned.
– MORE POWER TO YOUR KNITTING, NELL! by Melanie Gall (Sisterscene)
I caught Melanie Gall’s show THE SPARROW AND THE MOUSE, about Edith Piaf and her sister, in Victoria last year, and was seriously impressed by the pipes on this gal. There was, going in, absolutely no question that she could sing. The only question was how fun was the show she was going to craft around her stellar voice would be.
Set in WWII, the show stars Gall as Sadie, a would-be singer who lands a radio gig as ‘Knitting Nell’. Her sole job is to sing songs about knitting (of which there are, apparently, a helluva lot…who knew?) to the gals on the homefront. In between those tunes, and a few old standards that should be familiar to most), we learn of Sadie’s natural loathing of knitting that she must overcome, as well as her long-distance relationship with an admiring soldier. The script has a lot of really sharp humour that really hits the mark, and makes the time between songs rather a treat. And Gall is an opera-trained singer, so there’s a good chance you’re gonna find something to like in her repertory of tunes. We like Sadie right away…the ‘Knitting Club’ bits were highlights of the show for me. This show, like SPARROW before it, is still essentially a vehicle for Gall’s amazing voice, but I find it a more effective vehicle then before. Her theatre, while still a little choppy here and there, seemed more naturalistic here, and I had a really good time at this show. I expect you will too.
Note: Melanie Gall has another show at the Fringe, a duet-show with Bremner Duthie called NE ME QUITTE PAS, PIAF AND BREL: THE IMPOSSIBLE CONCERT at Mercury Lounge. If you dig some crooning,that may be the show for you, too.
– DANTI-DAN by Gina Moxley (OSSD Senior Acting Company)
Wasn’t sure what to expect from this show, directed by Third Wall’s James Richardson, and billed as a ‘Shamrock Western’. Starring a fresh crop of up’n’comers from OSSD, DAN is a tale set in a hick town (from the language, I think in Ireland, tho happily no one attempts an accent…leave that to DONKEY DERBY), and centering around five youths in particular. Ber (Leyla Sutehrland) is the ‘posh’ girl, seeing tough guy Noel (Patrick Bugby). Her sister Dolores (Laura Teutsch) keeps on hanging out with troublemaker Cactus (Ainsley Shannon). And amidst it all is Dan, aka ‘Danti-Dan’ (Adrien Pyke) , a somewhat slow kid who dreams of being a cowboy, and obsessively records all the cars that pass by. Right off the bat, this show endeared itself to me by having one of the best soundtracks of the Fringe. Opening with Mungo Jerry? I’ll say it…Fuck yeah!
It’s a troubling, racy script…way funnier and filthier than I’d been anticipating, which is a good thing. The kids in the cast step up to the plate nicely, with Pyke and Shannon (who have the meatiest roles) having especially strong physical presences onstage, and Teutsch delivering great work too as shy Dolores. The odd slang and language in the script occasionally trips a few of the actors up, but overall I found they done quite good, and kudos on them for tackling a show like this. Chalk up another good time.
– AERIAL ALLUSIONS by Azana Pilar (Azana Productions)
Having seen a brief preview of this show at the opening night party, I was pretty eager to see this show…ladders never looked so sexy afore! A two-person dance based show, starring…a guy and a girl, I’m sadly not sure of their names. Anyhow, ALLUSIONS is a very evocative bit of dance theatre, with our two leads dancing together, and alone, on the stage, following what seemed to be a vague theme about love, breakups, and gender identity. And yes, there is a ladder involved.
Some bits worked better than others in this show…the solo dance pieces were, in my opinion, pretty amazing to watch, and whenever the ladder got used in the action, it was impossible to look away. There were some cool costume changes, as each performer adopted new and outrageous personas during the show, tho the scripted dialogue bits that served as transition pieces kinda fell flat. They had some pretty interesting duet dance moves, which may have been hampered somewhat by the teeny Arts Court Library stage. And the whole thing was aided nicely by a steamy soundtrack (lots of good music tonight at shows!). If you like the dance, and are looking for something more intimate than HETEROLLECTUAL, this just may be your show.
– FALLEN: THE BOOK OF SAMAEL by Amy Zhou (Glassiano Productions)
A year and a bit back, I caught FALLEN for the first time at the Ottawa Youth Infringement Festival. It was a solid, if overly earnest piece, giving the fall from grace of Lucifer a bit of a mafia spin. Martin Glassford and James Graziano (aka Glassiano) decided the show needed a second chance, but this time with a serious dose of farce to breath new life into it. They collected a rather epic cast, jumped up the joke quotient, and ended up with one of the best laffs at the Ottawa Fringe.
Pumping in the gags like a modern day Zucker Brothers, Glassiano have turned FALLEN’s religious mafioso tale into a madcap show indeed, centered around Samael (Mike Kosowan, in a perfectly wonderful comic performance), an enforcer for ‘Papa’ who decides to leave his mysterious employer and start his own thing after a killing rubs him the wrong way. Along the way he’s aided and abetted by lead Angel/Enforcer Michael (Graziano), seductive Azrael (Jen Capogreco), and a pair of determined, hapless cops played by Rebecca Laviolette and Chris Jaworski. I wasn’t kidding about the Zucker reference earlier, either…the jokes are flung at you fast and furious in this show, and I for one LOVED it. This is a very very funny show populated by a tremendously talented cast, and failure to laugh out loud at least twice is cause for emergency defibrilation. There’re a couple of song breaks too, that must be seen to be believed…pure goofy magic. Glassiano knows wacky, folks, and they pull it off spectacularly here. Don’t forget your pants!
That’s it for tonight…I also caught the premiere in Ottawa of VERNUS SAYS SURPRISE this evening, and special agent Riff Randell (aka Kiersten Hanly) has dibs on that one. I will say this, because I can’t shut myself up…VERNUS is one of the most beautiful, polished and human Fringe shows I’ve ever seen. And I’m so proud to have been a part of it I can’t tell you. See it at ALL COSTS. Peace, love and soul, Fringers,
The Visitor (and Winston)