— WANDERLUST — MABEL’S LAST PERFORMANCE — ‘TIS PITY SHE’S A WHORE —
A short night tonight at the Fringe…at least, by the numbers. Only three shows, but one of them WAS nearly two hours, so I hope that cuts me some slack. And only two of them are mine to review! That feels so weird..in fact, after tonight (fingers crossed), the Visitorium will have covered every single beautiful show at the 2012 Ottawa Fringe! And then…well, shit, what the fuck do I blog about for the rest of the week? I’ll think of something. It was another hot one today, but me and Winston seem to have manage just fine..and it’s cooling down plenty at the wee hour that I’m writing this. Rain tomorrow? We’d be due…it ain’t a Fringe ’til something gets soaked.
– WANDERLUST by Martin Dockery
Lovely Fiona Currie has already covered this one, but having caught it myself today, I have to chime in and offer a quick two cents on storyteller Martin Dockery’s great one-manner. As hi-energy a performer as they come, Dockery relates the story of his five-month journey through Africa in the midst of a fit of thirtysomething ennui. The stories are hilarious, scary and human, and Dockery’s style is totally engaging. He might actually be TOO high octane for some people, but I loved every moment of his tales. If you’re not sold by the time he drops the beat, you’ll NEVER be sold.
– MABEL’S LAST PERFORMANCE by Megan Piercey Monafu (Abalone)
One of two shows nestling in the stage at St.Pauls Eastern United (along with LITTLE ORANGE MAN), Megan Monafu’s MLP shows us the story of aging former actress Mabel, stuck in a nursing home as her mind slowly fails her due to Alzheimers. She dreams of an elaborate escape plan, rehearses past stage triumphs (Chekhov’s SEAGULL is a particular fav’rit of hers), and longs for a lover from the past. Then, she forgets and does it all over again.
Played by Kathi Langston in a must-see performance, Mabel is easily one of the finest, and most crisply rendered Fringe characters I’ve ever met. Langston presents the treacherous territory of Alzheimers disease with incredible skill and grace, shifting Mabel from canny senior to doting youngster, to impish child without so much as missing a beat. The interactions with an imperious, never-seen supervising nurse are handled very neatly, and live musical accompaniment by Ian Tamblyn lends a gorgeous audio element to the show. Mabel’s fading faculties are never pitied, merely presented honestly, as the aging actress finds herself shifting from role to role, with less and less control or memory. A very smart and beautiful show, and very recommended.
– ‘TIS PITY SHE’S A WHORE by John Ford (Bear and Company)
So I finally got out to the epic, two-hour outdoor show! I almost got the impression the dark storm clouds and distant flashes of lightning that gathered before showtime were directed right at me, a wagging finger from the heavens about my poor timing. But the skies ended up smiling on us tonight, no rain came, and it was time to watchdirector Eleanor Crowder and Bear & Co. strut their stuff at the Bronfman Ampthitheatre (my first time seeing a show there, can you believe it?
Starring a mighty cast indeed (with no less than two Team Visitorium members on board…hearty shoutout to Danielle Savoie and Grace Gordon!!), Ford’s lusty epic of incest and murder (yay!) centers on brother Giovanni (Victor Pokinko) and sister Annabella (Anna Lewis). Despite the best advice of their put-upon Friar (Leslie Cserepy), the two are madly in lust with one another. Meanwhile, Anna is being pursued by several disparate gents (Nick Amott, Simon Keeble and Will Somers), her Father (Brie Barker) is trying to arrange a solid marriage via the scheming signora Donada (Caroline Bowden), and…oh, God, I’m getting confused even TRYING to recap this thing. There’s lot going on, dig?
In spite of the heavy-sounding subject matter, Crowder and company mine Ford’s script for every ounce of laughs they can get, which turns out to be a helluva lot. All of the performances are solid, but a few standouts for me were smooth Tim Oberholzer as sly spaniard Vasques, Bowden as the imperious Donada, , and Will Somers and Nick Surges as comic duo Bergetto and Poggio (Somers does double duty later as a religious figure who must be seen to be believed…a Fringe comedy highlight). And my old coach Brie Barker gives it good as doting, but clueless daddy Florio. There were practically endless clever touches or moments I could rave about…Grace Gordon’s cymbals, Nick Amott’s bumbling swordsman, the chorus of grumbling thugs near the end…but it all comes down to the doomed couple, and Lewis and Pokinko turn in great work each, holding the center as the wicked talented cast fleshes out the world around them. Rain or shine, WHORE is a good time. I advise arriving early, and preparing a dirty joke in advance (don’t ask).
That’s it for me…look for more very soon from TEAM VISITORIUM. The finish line is in sight! Peace, love and soul, Fringers,
The Visitor (and Winston)