visitorium

Archive for January, 2013|Monthly archive page

Coming Up in February 2013

In Theatre on January 30, 2013 at 10:39 pm

On account of I haven’t posted anything in a week and a half, and I’m starting to question my own existence as a result, I’m gonna try and get the ‘Coming Up’ post done and posted a wee bit early.  And there was even stuff TO talk about!  A wicked ‘Bout Time workshop with Crush Improv (I made someone laugh!), ALTHEA at the Saw Gallery from Inverted Tree (short but sweet), and that whole ‘getting cast in a Fringe show’ thing…but we will talk more of THAT at a later date.  In the meantime, get ready to scream and shout, because it’s FEBRUARY IN OTTAWA!!!  And, as we’re about to see, that’s a much more awesome thing than it sounds like.

— ENGLISH THEATRE —

– BLUE BOX at the Great Canadian Theatre Company, from Nightswimming and Carmen Aguirre.  You have until the 3rd to find out why Carmen Aguirre is so much better than you (and she is).

BAT BOY THE MUSICAL at the Gladstone Theatre, from Black Sheep Theatre.  Until the 2nd, one of the funnest musicals of them all comes to a close, and if you miss it, I’ll never forgive you (neither will Bat Boy).

BatBoyPosterrevised

METAMORPHOSES at the National Arts Centre, from NAC English Theatre.  The swimming pool show!  Ovid!  Alix Sideris is in it!  And I’ll know more once I see it in a few days, but go!  Until the 16th.

THE LAST DROP at schools across the region, from Salamander Theatre.  Touring schools, but with one public performance on the 2nd at the OSSD, (EDITED: sadly, I am informed that the public performance has been cancelled.  As usual, schoolkids get ALL the good stuff!) this Natalie Joy Quesnel-helmed show about a fish and scientist fighting over a glass of water promises to be something memorable. So if you, I don’t know, run a school or something, BOOK THIS SHOW!

RABBIT HOLE at the Ron Maslin Playhouse, from Kanata Theatre.  From the 5th to 16th, family drama from David Lindsay-Abaire that sounds pretty gut-punching.  Gonna try hard to make it out to this one.

BILLY BISHOP GOES TO WAR at the Gladstone Theatre, from Plosive Productions.  Chris Ralph flies solo (well, with a pianist, and director supreme Teri Loretto-Valentik) in the Canadian musical classic.  From the 8th to 23rd.

PRIDE AND PREJUDICE at the Ottawa Little Theatre.  The NAC had their crack, now it’s OLT’s turn with their take on Jane Austen’s love-romp fluffstravaganza.  From the 12th thru to March 2nd.

GOD OF CARNAGE at the Irving Greenberg Theatre Centre (GCTC), from Third Wall.  They’re back!  With the Ontario premiere of Yasmina Reza’s hit show, and the Avengers-league cast of Duckworth, Ellis, Watt and Koensgen leading the charge.  From the 12th thru March 2nd.

THE SERVANT OF TWO MASTERS from Algonquin Theatre.  The Gonq kids are back for another season, kicking off with some Commedia courtesy of director Catriona Leger!  From the 13th to 17th.

THE PAPER BAG PRINCESS AND OTHER STORIES from Ottawa Theatre School, at the Ottawa School of Speech and Drama.  A little Munsch action for ya, from the OTS gang.  Family fare from the 16th to 23rd.

SANCTUARY SONG at the National Arts Centre Studio.  An opera for children, about an elephant.  Sold!  The 16th and 18th.

INNOCENCE LOST at the National Arts Centre.  Beverly Cooper’s dramatic retelling of the true story of Steven Truscott.  From the 27th to March 16th.

And for something of interest to fans of both French AND English Theatre (you should be fans of both, by the way), the PRIX RIDEAU AWARDS will be announcing their 2013 nominations on the 26th at Mercury Lounge.  C’mon out and tart planning what to wear to the gala!

undercurrents

Oh yes, I hadn’t forgotten about it!  (Although to all the people who’ve been talking about it like it’s the only thing going on in Ottawa theatre this month…please see above).  Here’s the goodies coming up any second now from the third UNDERCURRENTS Festival, running from the 5th thru 17th…all shows taking place in the GCTC Studio (or maybe the lobby, as in the case of BREAD):

SKIN from Deluxe Hot Sauce.  Insanely cool sounding theatre from the Saucies, featuring original music composed by mapping each performers skin.  Starts the 5th, ends the 16th.

THE PUBLIC SERVANT from Theatre Columbus. Billed as a tragi-comedy about the life of a female federal employee, Theatre Columbus has the years to prove they mean business.  And they were smart enough to bring Sarah McVie along on this one!  Starts the 5th, ends on the 17th.

BREAD from Karen Balcome and Geoff McBride.  Bake bread in the lobby with Ruby and Seth!  Short and lively theatre that I expect you will remember always (very limited seating!)  Starts the 5th, ends the 17th.

LADIES OF THE LAKE from Skeleton Key. The secret origin of the Lady of the Lake?  If it’s from Kate Smith and Catriona Leger, then I believe it.  Starts on the 6th, ends the 16th.

HIP HOP SHAKESPEARE LIVE MUSIC VIDEOS from 411 Dramaturgy.  First of two returning Fringe hits, Dave and Mel’s inspiring collage of Bardic song parodies is a major crowd pleaser. Starts the 6th, ends the 17th.

LITTLE ORANGE MAN from Snafu Dance Theatre.   The other Fringe showstopper…one of the best things in the history of ever, featuring the inimitable Ingrid Hansen as Kitt.  Starts on the 7th, ends on the 14th.

LITTLE ILIAD from Evan Webber and Frank Cox-O’Connell.  Cool people tell me this innovative, two-man show is one for the ages, and I can’t wait.  Runs twice nightly, because they don’t have enough headphones (you’ll see).  Starts on the 8th, ends on the 13th.

— FRENCH THEATRE —

V COMME CANARD at Theatre de L’Ile. Until the 16th.  Comedy like only the French can do it!

VIPERINE at the NAC studio.  Until the 3rd, family drama aimed at a young audience.

L’ARAIGNEE at L’Espace Rene Prevost.  Until the 2nd…new stuff from Elise Gauthier, yay!

20,000 LIEUES SOUS LES MERS: L’HOMME FACE A  LA NATURE at Arts Court Studio, from Creations in Vivo.  2pm on the 10th, 16th and 17th, in asscociation with Chill Factor!  Live action Jules Verne for the win!

UBU SUR LA TABLE at the NAC Rehearsal Hall A.  From the 12th to the 16th.  Puppet theatre of the insanely cool sounding variety.

KIWI at the NAC Studio.  From the 20th to 23rd…a ‘fairy tale devoid of fairies’, for ages 12 and up.

OULIPO SHOW at the NAC Studio.  From the 27th to March 2nd, a supposedly amazing display of French linguistic acrobatics…so I may need to have a spotter for this one.

—OTHER STUFF—

IMPROV : Crush Improv will be back with another Bout Time on the 4th, this time upstairs at the Foolish Chicken!  Two brand new teams, so how can ya lose?  And GRIMPROV, another Improv gang that have lost their home recently (RIP Imperial Tavern), relocated at the last minute this month to the Cock and Lion, and I’ll keep this spot updated with where their next show will be.  Crystal Basement…is your show at Atomic Rooster on the FIRST Tuesday of the month, or the last..?  I get confused easily.

COMEDY: CRACKING UP THE CAPITAL hits town from the 5th thru 9th, featuring such visiting comedy dignitaries as Colin Mochrie, Deb McGrath, Big Daddy Tazz and many more (including a head to head bout with the Carleton U. and Ottawa U. improv teams, moderated my Mochrie his own self).  Comedy fans take fuckin’ note!

DANCE : FACE 2 FACE from NAC Dance and a variety of supercool international artists, putting on a mini-Fringe of Dance goodness.  The shows…STILL STANDING YOU, THE MOST TOGETHER WE’VE EVER BEEN, HOW ABOUT YOU?, and T.+ BERNADETTE and THE ENCHANTED ROOM sound absolutely unmissable…which is why I have no intention of missing them, and you’d be a loon to pass this up too.  At the NAC Studio, ODD Dance Studio and Arts Court Theatre from the 5th thru 9th.

MUSIC: The Winter Edition of the OTTAWA JAZZ FESTIVAL hits town from January 30th until February 2nd, with a whole lotta sweet sounds at venues at the Mercury Lounge, Dominion Chalmers Church, Academic Hall and the NAC 4th Stage.  I’ll be making my music-review debut at this shindig, so I hope come of you will make it out!

— OTHER OTHER STUFF —

Someone just kindly pointed out a small  little winter festival in town this month, called WINTERLUDE.  Maybe you want to check some of the million or so activities this slightly gigantic event has going on, as well as their newer sister festival CHILL FACTOR.  Keep your eyes peeled on the weekends at Marion Dewar plaza, or Jacques Cartier and Confederation Parks, and you just might see the Ottawa Stilt Union prowling around, looking cool. In fact, here’s a recently added list of their appearance times!

You might also be interested in hitting up DIRTY DOZEN, the 12th anniversary shindig in honour of Venus Envy‘s 12th year in operation.  Gonna be some sweet burlesque, including my pal the Mighty Afrodite, at Babylon nightclub on Saturday the 16th.

(This is the part where you tell me what I missed, and what cool goings-on Ottawa needs to know about.  Movies, Dance, spoken word, you name it, I’ll pimp it, just drop me a comment/tweet/e-mail/whatever.  Also, whatever new stuff I find (or, ahem, remember) along the way will go here.  Check back as often as it please ye.)  In the meantime I am DONE, because it’s gotten warm out and the furnace still thinks it’s minus 30-something. Phew!  Peace,love and soul, y’all,

Kevin Reid, aka The Visitor (and Winston)

Out of the Black Hole, into the Blue Box

In GCTC, Theatre on January 19, 2013 at 10:23 pm

It’s been almost a year since I last saw the show I was slated to see tonight…or rather LAST night.  Sorry, I’ve been slacking off a bit for a night and a day, it happens (a lot).  Hey, don’t judge, I’ve been very busy, with…with…okay, yes, my new MUNSTERS dvd, what of it?  Did you know Herman competed for Transylvania in the 1841 Olympic games?  Didn’t KNOW there were Olympic games in 1841, did you?  Well, now you do, thanks to the educational power of television.  Time wasted, indeed.  I think you owe me an apology.

Sorry, I know I'm talking about The Munsters an awful lot these days.  I'll settle down soon, I promise.

Sorry, I know I’m talking about The Munsters an awful lot these days. I’ll settle down soon, I promise.

But still, there was a show the other day, and I’d seen it before!  At UNDERCURRENTS, to be precise, last February (the third installment of the festival is less than a month away…got your tickets yet?).  I dug it then, and was pleasantly surprised to hear it would be back in mainstage style…more room for dancin’!  The show, as you may have heard, was Carmen Aguirre’s BLUE BOX, directed by Brian Quirt and put on by Nightswimming Theatre (with Neworld Theatre).  Ms.Aguirre, whose memoir SOMETHING FIERCE won the Canada Reads competition last year, earning her national acclaim and an accusation of terrorism by a complete fucking idiot, is an almost unassuming bundle of power, who strides quietly onto a nearly barren stage at the start of her show, salsa music playing softly in the background.  You’d be forgiven for thinking this was going to be a dull affair indeed.  Until Carmen opens her mouth and tells the audience the REAL name of her show, and it’s off the the goddamn races.

Spoiler alert: Carmen's gonna win that race.   photo credit: Andrew Alexander

Spoiler alert: Carmen’s gonna win that race. photo credit: Andrew Alexander

BLUE **** tells a few stories in Carmen’s incredible life concurrently.  A long-running tale of love and lust between Carmen and a mysterious, gorgeous stranger only ever identified as ‘Vision Man’ (on account of Carmen was introduced to his image in a visitation from her short, dead Granma, because that’s just what deceased Grandmothers DO) cuts intermittently back and forth with the story of Carmen’s earlier life as a 20 year old revolutionary in Argentina and Chile, working to overthrow the corrupt Pinochet dictatorship.  The stories shift in and out of one another, harrowing tales of fearful escapes from neo-nazi thugs and secret police falling into frustrated accounts of a visit to LA with the increasingly emotionally distant Vision Man.  Time gets a little wobbly as modern Carmen fights for what she thinks is the destined love of her life, and her past self puts her young life on the line for a dream of a free nation…two quests that will, ultimately, not exactly come off as she hoped.  Along the way she has a close encounter with a Condor, works a phone sex line, dresses like a little old lady, smuggles documents across a few borders, and just generally risks her life for her country/love life.

Aguirre’s life, and her endless search for truth and love, is a fascinating one and as far as I’m concerned, a great damn show.  Admittedly, a decidedly untheatrical piece of theatre…Carmen spends a great portion of the show simply standing and addressing the audience in a familiar, conversational tone, deceptive in its ease.  And it CAN be a touch confusing following some of the sudden shifts in time and storyline, accompanied as they are by no tonal shifts, lighting changes, sound cues, wacky voices, nada.  Just Carmen telling one story and then, suddenly, another.  But on my second viewing, I’ve discovered a special trick to help you follow along through these changes…it’s called Paying Fucking Attention.  In fact, you might want to apply this tip to OTHER aspects of your daily life, and see if it doesn’t work wonders!  That’s free advice, yo.

Carmen is a fantastically engaging storyteller, more than a little because her stories are pretty goddamn awesome.  And she’s blunt enough with words to make most of the house blush during her 90 minute performance, but never just to make the paint peel…it’s just how the lady talks, and it shows.  Honesty is a MAJOR part of Carmen Aguirre’s genetic makeup (possibly a little witchcraft in there too, and a laser wit), and you get a refreshing does of it during this show.  And yes, there IS a salsa dance break at about the hour mark, and while Carmen herself didn’t ask me to dance like she did at Undercurrents, that cute girl in the front row I had my eye on DID, so all was well with the world (I picked my second row aisle seats specifically for their danceability).  If you’re a fan of passion, truth, love, sex, revolution, justice, or a swell night out at the theatre, then this might be the show for you.  And now, to play me out, los Fabulosos Cadillacs.

Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid (and Winston)

PS:  I know, I know, the modern Olympic games didn’t start until 1896.  I know already!  So don’t send angry letters or anything, it’s jut a fun little show about a family of Monsters and I was making a joke, all right? Don’t get all bent out of shape about it.  Sheesh.

PPS: (Munsters Rule.)

It’s Just a Jump to the Left…

In Theatre on January 18, 2013 at 12:58 am

Another day, another musical…what is this, Broadway?  Zing!  But seriously folks…two full-blown musicals in two days is pretty goddamn impressive for Ottawa in January, and no fooling.  I was still tossing the tunes from BAT BOY around in my overworked noodle when I found myself once again wandering the labyrinthine tunnels underneath Carleton University, wending my way towards the ginormous, and slightly hard to find Kailash Mital Theatre.  Because it’s a new year, and time for a new offering from the ne’er-do-well gang of theatre punks of Sock’n’Buskin.  And, as mentioned, they decided on a musical for their latest offering.

Something tasteful and subdued, just to be on the safe side.

Something tasteful and subdued, just to be on the safe side.

Yes, the Sockies went there, putting Richard O’Brien’s legendary, so-bad-it’s-good trashfest THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW on the Carleton stage.  Made (in)famous by the 1975 movie that pretty much defined the cinematic version of ‘cult’, and continues to inspire legions of devotees to regular showings at local theatres (like our very own Mayfair, for instance) to sing and dance, and very often mock, along with the insanity on the screen.  And while the trained and polished nature of said mock-alongs are absolutely not my thing (and we’ll come back to that later), the show itself has a helluva lotta fun going for it, and I was looking forward to what SnB was going to do with it.

rockyhorror

The batshit insane storyline involves goody-two-shoes sweethearts Janet and Brad (Julia Allen and Kevin Nimmock) getting a flat tire, and seeking refuge in a weird castle in the middle of nowhere.  Greeted by weirdo servants Riff Raff (Cassie Nagy), Magenta (Annie King-Smith) and Columbia (Katherine Boone), our hapless heroes are soon introduced to the master of the house, flamboyant transvestite scientist Dr.Frank’n’Furter (Louis-Alexandre Boulet, eating the role up).  Strutting and preening in a smashing outfit, the good Doctor is on the search for absolute pleasure, which he’s currently seeking in his studly homemade creation Rocky (Andrew Maloney), although he seems quite delighted to tear down whatever inhibitions Janet and Brad crossed the threshold with as well.  Toss in the uptight Dr.Scott (Euan Wheaton, doubling as the show’s narrator), randy biker Eddie (Drew Rouble), a chorus of easy-on-the-eyes transvestites, AND a kickin’ onstage band providing incredible sound, and you’ve got yourself a show.  In fact, you’ve got yourself a GREAT show.

First-time director Geoff Burnside and his team managed to come up with one seriously entertaining campy romp, well-staged and filled with killer songs.  We all know the Time Warp, of course, but there are classics abounding in this show, and the SnB production does  them good justice.  Boulet leads the way with a thumping good rendition of ‘Sweet Transvestite’ that pretty much knocks the roof off the joint, and Julia Allen’s wonderfully doe-eyed Janet gets well and saucy with her second act version of ‘Touch-a Touch-a Touch Me’.  For a refresher, here’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer‘s Amber Benson performing that from a few years ago (sharing just ’cause I luv Amber Benson, and fuck you if you don’t):

It’s a terrific show, probably the best I’ve seen from Sock’n’Buskin, and if you’re a fan of musicals you now have two shows in town that you pretty much GOTTA see.    I was a fan of just about all the performances, with a special soft spot for Cassie Nagy’s merrily creepy Riff Raff, and Euan Wheaton’s hilariously dry-witted narrator.  The cast dig into their roles with appropriate gusto, the set from Awesome Jeff Cowen is, well, awesome, and I’m happy to say this was probably the biggest and best audience I’ve seen yet at a Sockies show.  Which brings me back to what I was hitting on before.  I’m well aware, of course, that at this point in human history it’s pretty much impossible to extricate ‘Rocky Horror’ from ‘Audience Participation’.  So it wasn’t a complete surprise when someone piped up early in the premiere with some practiced quips, and continued for the whole show (not the whole audience, mind you…just that one guy).  In fact, he may even have been part of the show…Although there were enough times when he cluelessly tried to outshout the live band on stage, to little effect, that I like to think he was just enthusiastic (and apparently oblivious to the differences between a screening of an old movie, and a live performance).  A lot of the audience dug his banter, and this may be happening for every show during the run, I really don’t know.  I personally wanted him dead (or at least tased), but hey, different strokes.  Just a heads up that, if you go and see this wonderful musical with great performances, costumes, music and choreography, there may be idiots shouting stupid things a lot.  So, you know…hopefully you like that part more than I did.  Peace, love, and Dammit, Janet,

Kevin Reid (and Winston)

Hold Me Bat Boy, Touch Me Bat Boy

In Theatre on January 17, 2013 at 12:53 am

Boy, I needed me some theatre tonight. It’s felt like too long since my last show, way too long…and yes, okay, maybe I was feeling a little grumpy after discovering that I didn’t make the first round of jurying for the Ninjamatics 2012 weblog awards that I’d previously been nominated for, and me and my shitty blog won’t be winning a damned thing (although I should note that another local website, preview-kings Production Ottawa, made it through to the final round, so good on them!  Also, I’m bitterly jealous).  So yeah, I needed me a pick-me-up on the quick time, and my recent impulse-purchase of the complete series of THE MUNSTERS was only getting half the job done.

Although it was doing that job very well because the Munsters are FUCKING AWESOME.

Although it was doing that job very well, because the Munsters are FUCKING AWESOME.

For the other half, only a road trip to the nearest theatre (aka The Gladstone) would do the trick, for the opening night of their latest, Black Sheep Theatre’s production of BAT BOY: THE MUSICAL from director Dave Dawson.  Based on the story and book by Keythe Farley and Brian Flemming, itself inspired by the now-legendary article in the only reliable news source planet Earth has ever known, the Weekly World News.  If you’re one of those snobs who doens’t read the papers because you’re too busy downloading biased liberal newsfeeds directly into your I-ports or something, here’s the basic gist of the story:

coverbatboy

Yeah, I know what you’re thinking…that shit is TOO AMAZING to be true.  But you’d be wrong (as usual), because I just saw the whole thing played out in grand fashion on the Gladstone stage and am now a witness to the tragic, but seriously fun tale of the Bat Boy.  Starting off with an ill-planned spelunking trip into a mysterious cave in Hope Falls, where a trio of teenagers discover our hero, a snarling, pointy eared mutant (or Zach Counsil, as we call him in polite circles here in Ottawa) living like an animal.  After biting sister Ruthie, brothers Ron and and Rick (Mathieu Charlebois and Ben Montgomery) capture the Bat Boy and drag him back to town, where Sheriff Reynolds (smooth Tim Oberholzer, sporting an even-more splendid moustache than in Chamber Theatre’s TONGUE AND GROOVE, if such a thing is possible) bags him, binds him, and drags him off to the home of local veterinarian Thomas Parker (Kris Joseph, back from the wilds of Alberta, hooray).  The hope is that the doc will quietly put the Bat Boy down, but his wife Meredith (Rebekah Shirey) and daughter Shelley (Allesia Lupiano) put up a helluva fuss. Instead, the Bat Boy is renamed Edgar, taught English and proper BBC manners, and turned into an upstanding member of society.  All would end well right there except for Ruthie Parker’s vengeance-obsessed Mama (David Benedict Brown, cross dressing with the best of them), a nervous Mayor (Hillary Carroll), and a visiting revival reverend (Rebecca Perry), not to mention a few skeletons in a few choice closets.

BAT BOY is a giddily over-the-top romp of a musical, and having already directed it a few times before, Dawson knows how to get what he wants out of his cast by now (some of the gang onstage are veterans of his previous productions of this show at Winnipeg Fringe and Carleton U. in years past).  The songs and music by Laurence O’Keefe are pretty goddam memorable as evidenced by the fact that I’m still singing them to myself, now, as I write this.  And the cast is a very good one…Zach Counsil, an Ottawa mainstay, pushes himself to new highs as our misshapen hero, thirsting for knowledge and acceptance as much as blood (which he also really, really wants).  Likewise, hometown fave Kris Joseph is very happily welcomed back to our stages as conflicted Doctor Parker…not to mention the God Pan, in what will definitely be a shoo-in for my fav’rit scene of onstage mass-bestiality for this year, barring some seriously unforeseen programming from Ottawa Little Theatre.

The out-of-towners in this show impress like Hell, as well…Rebekah Shirley as Meredith Parker is top-notch, and Alessia Lupiano as daughter Shelley is a positive wonder.  Hilary Carroll, too, is terrific as redneck mayor Maggie, and does mighty fine scene-stealing later on as a turtle…trust me, or see it yourself, which would be way better for you.   The set, such as it is, is fairly low-budget, which might have been the point with a show like this.  Mind you, that’s a fairly convenient point if you’re the  company producing the show, and even I had to wince a time or two at just how quickly knocked off some of the onstage props looked (stitching straight doesn’t cost extra, right? And that cage Zach was suspended in looks like it was gonna come down any second).

But this is a musical, and as such, it all comes down TO the music.  And the gang have pipes to spare, special shoutouts to Kris Joesph, Rebecca Perry and Alessia Lupiano. And especially to the ‘Cave Band’, the slightly-offstage live band providing all the music…Dave Dawson likes the music in his musicals as live as his vocals, and it works a treat here.  Conductor Steve Lafond and his gang did REAL good. The music was solid, and the gang onstage rose to the challenge.  This show, from the start a quick replacement for the originally planned DOCTOR HORRIBLE show (You better give us a good sequel, Whedon..!), did exactly what it was supposed to do, and made me forget all about that shit while I was watching it.  BAT BOY is good fun, and sweet wounded Jesus, that’s really all you need to know.  Catch it while you can…and remember, merchandise IS available, so bring some extra cash Just saying. Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid (aka the Visitor ) and Winston (Oh yeah…he’s back!)

Monday Foofarah! — January 14 2013

In Foofarah on January 14, 2013 at 10:25 pm

SO wiped out right now.  A winter cold has been variously kicking my ass for weeks now.  I just finished a return-to-drudgery weekend in which I had to work practically open to close two days in a row to cover for missing workmates.  I is exhausted, yo, and I’m not sure this is exactly gonna be the bestest Foofarah ever as a result.  In fact, let’s just say it’ll suck right now, so worst case scenario you’re ready for the disappointment to come.  Are you in that mindset?  Grim isn’t it??  Here we go!

IN THEATRES THIS WEEK:

MRS.DALLY HAS A LOVER at the A.C.T.Studio.  Extended for a whole extra week!  At the ACT theatre in Vanier, off Palace street, behind the pizza joint, through the heavy iron doors in the parking lot.  Password is ‘Contagion’.

ALL MY SONS at the Ottawa Little Theatre.  Arthur Miller’s whimsical tale of a loving family consumed by the bitter flames of regret, but with a pretty sweet lightning effect.

BAT BOY: THE MUSICAL at the Gladstone Theatre, from Black Sheep. Will this make me forget DOCTOR HORRIBLE was supposed to be premiering this week?  Cool people tell me that yes…yes it will.

THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW at Kailash Mital Theatre (Carleton University campus), from Sock’n’Buskin.  Whaa?  MORE musicals this week?  Sock’n’Buskin does Frank’n’Furter, and all is well with the world.

BLUE BOX at the Great Canadian Theatre Company, from Nightswimming and Carmen Aguirre. An UNDERCURRENTS flashback, but now in a noticeably larger room.

V COMME CANARD at Theatre de L’Ile. A new French show!  I think it’s a comedy!  Probably…who cares?   It’s French theatre, which is bon theatre.

CHURCH OF KARAOKE: THE MUSICAL at Shenkman Centre.  …wait, what?  Seriously, I have NO idea.  But it seems to be happening, so we’d better go.  Just a musical kinda week, I guess.

Phew…that actually took me a long time to write up (I had dinner and watched a pretty moving episode of THE FLYING NUN in there too, so I’m not totally lazy or anything).  For afterwards, here’s a band that the lovely Jen C told me to go see this weekend, and I didn’t.  But I should have, because just listen:

FRINGE:  Okay, so we’re finally out of December, widely acknowledged as the worst of all months on account of it’s as far away as you can get on a calendar from FRINGE.  But now, the countdown is officially ON.  And my loosely defined plan to see, like, twenty thousand Fringe plays this summer continues to simmer in my skull, and I’m getting increasingly concerned at how little ACTUAL PLANNING I’m doing for it.  But more on that another day.  For now I’m mostly content to sift through my huge piles of handwritten lists of Fringe lottery winners from various cities (Come ON, Victoria, you’re holding up the parade! Seriously.)  Lots of cool and exciting new performers have already got me excited to see their shows…definitely looking forward to meeting THESE clowns:

rocket_sheshells-sofa1

That’s Rocket and Sheshells of SMALL MATTERS Productions outta Edmonton, coming this year to Ottawa and other lucky towns along the Fringe circuit if all goes well…can’t wait!  Also, if every single human being planning on getting a BYOV in any Fringe anywhere in Canada this year could keep me updated with their status on that, it would be much appreciated. And one more question I’ve been kicking around in my head, and this is a somewhat earnest query…concerning my review format during Fringe.  Here’s a typical page of my show reviews from this last year’s Ottawa Fringe Festival:

https://thevisitorium.com/2012/06/15/fringe-coma-2012-day-one/

Dazzling, witty and brilliant, right?  I know.  But here’s my question (and this goes out to Fringe performers in particular): Is that format basically okay, or would you prefer it if I broke the reviews up into their own post apiece?  Okay, they’d be shorter for sure, but it would also make it a lot easier for travelling performers to link to them, without having to add those pesky ‘halfway down the page’ riders at the top of the weblink.  And while I would miss my ‘Fringe-Coma’ posts outlining my day of Theatre, I’d sacrifice it if it made life easier for you famous actors out there (not sarcasm, btw).  So please, drop a line, weigh in, wave really loud, whatever, just let me know what you think might be better.

While you’re all busy totally not replying to that question, here’s the reason why I drink Jameson’s Irish Whiskey, Texas gubernatorial candidate Richard Kinky ‘Big Dick’ Friedman:

I had more sort-of planned to say, but I’m gonna cut out here because I’m tired, lazy, sick, and that FLYING NUN disc ain’t gonna watch itself.  Okay, my teevee fetish may be rearing its ugly head again..I’m am for sure treating myself to the complete series of THE MUNSTERS this week, not because I deserve it (I don’t), but because I kinda sorta want it (I do).  Seriously, I’ll post fanfiction here if you ask me too, I will.  Please don’t ask me.  Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid, aka The Visitor

Sons of Miller

In Theatre on January 9, 2013 at 6:10 pm

Tuesday was the last day off my week of Staycation inactivity, and to be honest it was getting off to a pretty inauspicious start.  Had to do an emergency laundry run, as I suddenly realized I had left my filthy work clothes in a coiled heap in the same bag I’d brought them home in eight days earlier.  Puttered around, had an early beer that made a sneak-attack on my emotion control centers and threatened to release the mean reds in full force.  Thankfully, I pulled out in time, had some strong coffee and read a bit of science to sooth my nerves, then caught a bus downtown.  One very hearty vegetarian dinner at The Horn of Africa (recommended!) later, and I was in a much better frame of mind for the late highlight of my day…yeah, of course it was theatre.

In specific, it was time for opening night on the fourth show of the Ottawa Little Theatre‘s legendary 100th Season, with one show for every decade of their existence.  This time around it was the footloose forties making their mark, with Arthur Miller’s drama ALL MY SONS, the third time the OLT has produced this show since 1949 (which, trivia alert, is three times more than I have produced it).  Seems there was something about this tale that kept the little drama league that could coming back for more, and I was curious to see what it was.  So, after an obligatory wave to little bird Kiersten Hanly, it was off to Millertown to see what was up.

amsThe story is set just after WWII, with both the country and our spotlighted family, the Kellers, trying to recover.  Patriarch Joe Keller (Mike Kennedy) is a friendly, gregarious sort, quick with a laugh and a smile…possibly to cover up his recent arrest and dubious exoneration on a charge of selling defective airplane parts to the US military.  Both his sons went into the war, but only high-minded Chris (Patrick McIntyre) came back…Larry was reported MIA three years ago, and his strong-willed Mother Kate (Cheryl Jackson) refuses to accept the possibility that he might be dead, no matter the odds.  Larry’s old flame Ann (Anne van Leeuwen), and incidentally the daughter of Joe’s old partner who ended up taking the fall for those airplane parts, is back at their home for a visit at Chris’ urgings.  Love may be in the offing, but some people are having trouble letting go of the past (including Ann’s brother George, played by Danny McLeod in an explosive second act appearance).  While a little comic relief is provided by daffy next-door neighbours Frank and Lydia Lubey (Paul S.Washer and Krysta Matthews), the tone of the play tends to darken as it progresses.  Kate and Joe’s other neighbours, Jim and Sue Bayliss (Phillip Lynch and Michele Snyder) are decidedly less with the wacky and more on the sinister side, though they too have their lighter moments.

Really, this play is Miller’s harsh look at attitudes in post-war America, greed vs altruism, and just how elastic morals can become in a society that places such enormous value on money.  It opens with a bang (quite literally) and never loses momentum from there, revelation building upon revelation, secrets crashing into confrontation…it’s easy to see why the OLT has gone back to this play more than once.  The cast provides uniformly strong performances, with many great standout moments to choose from.  Cheryl Jackson and Mike Kennedy as Kate and Joe are just stellar, consistently controlling the action on stage around the strength of their personalities.  And Patrick McIntyre as Chris is great to watch, taking the terrific, impossible struggles thrust upon his character and making them work beautifully.  It’s probably the best full cast performance at the OLT I’ve seen since LOST IN YONKERS last year, and that’s saying something.  Director Joan Sullivan Eady keeps the action intimate on a lovely Tom Pidgeon set, with typically great David Magladry lighting effects.   There was a recurring musical cue, welling up during the more dramatic monologues, that I think ended up more cheesy than effective, and maybe didn’t give credit to the work the actors were bringing to the table.  But happily that work was there and it was top-notch, and credit to all involved.  This is a powerful show, emotional and thought-provoking and never once settling for an easy answer.  The OLT gang does Miller right, and this is a great start to 2013 for them.  Though after this bit, I’ll be just fine with some Jane Austen lightheartedness next month, thanks very much.  Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid, aka the Visitor

Monday Foofarah! — January 7th 2013

In Foofarah on January 7, 2013 at 5:16 pm

Phew, it’s been a while!  Sorry I missed so many Foofarahs in December, but December did a pretty good job of sucking my will to live (anytime I’m not blogging a lot, it can only mean bad news).  Still, brand new year now, eh?  And not off to a bad start…I’ve already caught a few shows, and this will be my sixth post in seven days…we’ll see if I can keep THAT pace up for very long (hint: no I cannot).  Got a few things I wanted to yammer about this time around, so let’s get right to the getting-to-it!

IN THEATRES THIS WEEK:

MRS.DALLY HAS A LOVER at the ACT Ottawa Studio.  Playing from the 9th thru 12th…get outta the cold and into a hot, steamy show!

ALL MY SONS at Ottawa Little Theatre.  Arthur Miller’s wartime drama continues the 100th season, premiering on the 8th.

…and that’s it!  Okay, the year is still getting over that Xmas hangover, give it a few days!  Sheesh.  Here, have some sweet 60’s garage rock to help you get over it:

BLACK BOX MUSINGS:  Of the three shows I’ve seen so far this month, Jayson McDonald’s UNDERBELLY was two of them.  Part of Black Sheep Theatre’s BLACK BOX SERIES at the Gladstone Theatre, it was a fantastic show and you’d have been nuts to miss it.  And from the numbers, a whole heaping lot of you were nuts.  As with the first set last March, the numbers of people coming out for these shows are definitely less than desired.  And the shows themselves are GREAT!  The aforementioned UNDERBELLY, as well as McDonalds’ first Black Box offering GIANT INVISIBLE ROBOT, Paul Hutcheson’s THIRD TIME LUCKY, and Ken Godmere’s VERNUS SAYS SURPRISE (note: Ken told me his show actually had pretty good houses, but he also has home turf advantage).  I desperately want to see this series continue, but I’m starting to doubt that’s going to happen unless some changes are made, and soon.  I think it might be time to up the ante, and turn this series into a proper festival…ie, make note of it in the season program at the Gladstone; proper media launch FOR the festival, with plenty of advance notice on scheduling; and for poop’s sake, start double-billing the shows together!  NOBODY wants to trek out to the Gladstone in the freezing cold to see ONE one-hour show.  Two shows, half-hour break in between WITH BAR OPEN mind you, and that’s a good night out nobody can argue with.  Four show over two weeks, two shows a week.  Sound good?  Sound dumb?  Hell if I know. maybe the whole works is too close to UNDERCURRENTS to be really viable, but I like to think if Montreal (with Wildside) and Toronto (with Next Stage) can have successful, full-blown theatre festivals in early January, then so can we.  Let’s just put a little more elbow grease into it next time around, promote the living shit out of it, and give Ottawa audiences all the quality theatre they can handle!  Again, just a thought.

DUDES DUDES DUDES: Fun side note…I got to hang out after the premiere of UNDERBELLY with Jayson McDonald himself (along with gentleman Jeff Culbert, the show’s director, and hometown hero Ray Besharah) at the Heart and Crown.  And can I just say how sweet it is that I can actually DO that?  I still get more than a little starstruck by actors, and Jay Mac is definitely one of my all-time theatre heroes.  So to hang out and raise a pint with the dude is a pretty big deal for me (Ray and Jeff ain’t no slouches, neither).  Likewise, I recently got to share a drink with our own Ken Godmere of VERNUS fame, who will sadly be leaving Ottawa all-too-shortly for the sunny (or, you know, warmer) shores of Vancouver.   Getting the chance to perform in VERNUS was a highlight of last year for me, and Ottawa will absolutely be poorer for losing one of the most talented and genuine human beings I have ever met.  VERY glad I got the chance to meet and know this fine gent (also, I get to see him do improv one more time tonight at Cafe Deckuf with Crush Improv, as soon as I’m done writing this post…you should totally come!), and I hope I get the chance to hang out with him in Vancouver later this year.  I know he’ll be running the place by then, right Ken?  Right.

And now, the original Dudes Shane and Al teach you how rapping be done:

RESOLVE:  Recently on the Face-Book (which is not a book, nor has it a face…dwell on this), I made the semi-joking comment that my New Year’s resolution was to stop asking girls out in so subtle a fashion that they don’t realize I’m hitting on them.  And while that IS a terrific idea of mine that I wish I’d put into effect a LONG FUCKING TIME AGO, I suppose I should probably toss a few more resolve-a-lutions in there for good measure.  I’ve already resolved to keep my homestead a little tidier on a regular basis…the Visitorium was getting pretty bachelor-ific, if you catch my drift (there’s shit everywhere, is what I’m saying).  I resolve to start actually identifying myself as me, Kevin Reid, on this site instead of hiding behind my ages-old net moniker of ‘Visitor’, which I think has outlived its usefulness, although the name Visitorium will, of course, remain.  I resolve to actually go on at least one real goddamned date, no matter HOW badly it will inevitably turn out.  I resolve to try and be more positive, as soon as this post is done.  I resolve to share more of myself with other people (that shit’s gonna be HARD, yo).  I resolve to drink just a LITTLE bit less, and eat just a LITTLE bit better.  I resolve to keep better track of the theatre that I see, and work even harder to get people out to see more shows.  I resolve to get out to see a show at the Mainline Theatre in Montreal as soon as I can.  I resolve to improve the Visitorium in noticeable ways before the end of the year.  I resolve to finish at least two full script for new plays.  And most importantly, I resolve that operation ALL YOUR FRINGE ARE BELONG TO ME will happen.  That’s the name for my planned 8-city Fringe-review tour, and if you’re rich and want to sponsor me, gimme a shout, willya?

Right, I think that’s enough cheques that my body can’t cash…here’s the king of rock’n’roll with an apropos sentiment:

I’m about done for this week…got that Crush show to head on out to, plus bought sweet dvd’s today, a final treat to myself on my week staycation.  Got Guy Maddin’s MY WINNIPEG, SWORD OF VENGEANCE (the first flick in the legendary LONE WOLF AND CUB series), and season one of THE FLYING NUN, because that’s how hardcore I is.  Peace, love and soul, all,

Kevin Reid

Frankie and Mrs.Dally

In Theatre on January 7, 2013 at 10:26 am

Sometimes you have to suffer for your art, and your theatre.  Sometimes, folks, you have to make sacrifices. Sometimes…well, sometimes, you just have to grit your teeth, pluck up your courage, and go.  To Vanier.

Now hang on, I didn’t mean to scare you off…it gets better!  Yes, this latest show I done seen plays on the wrong side of the bridge, but it’s all good, really…obviously it was a location I hadn’t been to yet, tho I probably should have at some point, given that it’s the home base of A.C.T Ottawa, a local theatre school who were putting on the performance in association with Lonsdale Smith Studios.  I found out about the show a little late (and promptly ranted childishly, but amusingly, on my Facebook page about that…seriously people, TELL ME EVERYTHING!) , and so only made it out to the Sunday matinee, about halfway thru the run.  And, all joking about Vanier aside, the ACT Studio entrance is, to put it mildly, just a little shady looking.  Seriously, I’m kinda glad I discovered this place during the DAY.  But my newbie fears were soon cast away, and I made my way into the unassuming little theatre, behind the Lorenzo’s on the Palace st. side (shady!), and into a lovely little foyer with a few others who had braved the snow and geography to be there that day.  Cozy little joint, and when we got let inside the actual theatre, I forgot all about the wilds of Vanier.

The show, MRS.DALLY HAS A LOVER by William Hanley and directed by ACT head honcho Claudia Jurt, takes place in the titular Mrs.Dally’s living room in the 60’s, and the audience is sitting quite voyeuristically almost inside of it.  Set designer Sasha Chichagov succeeds at making one of the most intimate sets I’ve ever been in (side note…Mr.Chichagov would like me to extend my love of the set design to contributors Pamela Masey, Claudia Jurt and Michele Lonsdale as well, and who am I to argue?)…and intimate is a pretty good word for this show.  As it begins, and the lights go down, and we start to hear some noises from behind the sofa.  Some, shall we say, intimate noises, nudge nudge, wink wink.  And the play, my friends, is on.

Mrs.-Dally-Has-A-Lover

The show features the thirtysomething Mrs.Dally (Genevieve Sirois), a neglected housewife who has started up an affair with teenage Frankie (Daniel Krantz) while her husband, whom she refers to as ‘the Brute’, is off at work.   The audience is set up for a fly-on-the-wall view of one of their daily trysts, occasional bouts of full frontal nudity and all.  In the interests of keeping the mystery alive, I won’t tell you whether it’s Frankie or Mrs.Dally who sports the birthday suit.  It doesn’t really matter too much, as over the course of the play both characters are stripped bare, one awkward conversation at a time.  Mrs.Dally (we never know her first name, tellingly) seems to need Frankie and his boyish charm, but the secrets haunting her from a regret-laden past just won’t let her take anything for granted.  And Frankie, a fidgeting, energetic lothario, seems to genuinely want to be what Mrs.Dally needs him to be…but that’s a tall order for a kid just out of high school, who seems to have trouble taking anything too seriously.  They clash often, passionate embraces falling in between outbursts and accusations and deep, dark confessions.  There’s a lot going on in Mrs.Dally’s living room this day, and illicit hookups are just the tip of the iceberg.

This is a pretty solid play with lots to mull over long after you’ve gone.  And the performances from our two fearless leads are dynamite.  Genevieve Sirois had already impressed me in the great HOW IT WORKS at the Gladstone (pretty much my fav’rit production of last year), and she steps it up here as the vulnerable and layered Mrs.Dally, sexy, smart and tragic all at once.  And it’s very hard to believe that this is Daniel Krantz’ first time acting on stage, as the program indicates…he’s damn good as the endearing Frankie, alternating between youthful exuberance and frustrated need as the moment requires.  Ms Jurt has clearly pulled the right people to get the job done here. Which reminds me, I need a shoutout to sound designer Timothy Paul Coderre as well…his subdued soundscape heightened the reality of the show just perfectly (although I think some of the police sirens I heard were just, you know, Vanier).

So hats off to ACT Ottawa, and I’m happy to say my first experience with them was more than worth the trip (and feel free to keep me in the loop the next time you have a show, deal?).  MRS DALLY plays for a few more days…you can get the times and prices here, and I think you’d be mighty pleased if you headed on over.  Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid

ETA: the show run has just been extended to the 19th, so you’ve got a few more chances to see some hot’n’heavy vanier theatre-stylings.

Rowan, King of Fools

In Company of Fools, Theatre on January 6, 2013 at 10:59 am

New Year!  And that means new seasons to announce, and that means new sovereigns to crown (yes it does, don’t argue), and that definitely means it’s time for the Company of Fools annual TWELFTH NIGHT CELEBRATION fundraiser show at the NAC 4th Stage.  This is my third year attending, and it was a blast the first two times.  If anything, it was even Blastier this year.  Here’s how it went down…

I actually bought my ticket in advance this year, instead of my previously established policy of just sort of stumbling upon one at the last minute (nice trick, but I’m no Nancy Kenny and I didn’t want to push my luck about getting in to sold-out events).  Spent the day doing some much needed laundry, stuffing myself with a little homemade bolognese, then heading out to the show, where the head Fools (Scott Florence and AL Connors) would be mastering the ceremony, and announcing the Fools’ upcoming season for 2013.  I spent a little frantic time hunting around for decent seat for my lonesome self before I was dutifully rescued by the lovely Kelly Rigole (soon to become the first actor to appear in TWO separate shows at the UNDERCURRENTS festival, FYI) to the stageside table she’d secured, along with supahstar Dave Benedict Brown of 411 Dramaturgy (soon to knock Ottawa out yet again with HIP HOP SHAKESPEARE, also at Undercurrents).  I was mightily thankful for the accommodations, as we listened to the pre-show musical stylings of Mi Casa Theatre’s Nick DiGaetano on the gee-tar.  Very nice, as always.

The show proper began as Scott and AL  took to the stage to a) encourage us to buy AS MANY RAFFLE TICKETS AS POSSIBLE, and b) introduce the spiffy cast who would take the stage a moment later to perform a not-even-a-little-bit rehearsed staged reading of TWELFTH NIGHT.  Alongside themselves, they were joined by Geoff McBride, Catriona Leger, Margo MacDonald, Chris Ralph, Simon Bradshaw, Melanie Karin and Richard Gelinas, a seriously talent-heavy who’s who of Ottawa Theatre that would be hard-pressed NOT to entertain an audience.  The show was a hit as expected…major props to Geoff McBride for managing so much scene-stealing on  a stage that packed with incredible performers.  Also, fine legwork from Gelinas.  Many laffs were had, and the audience was primed and ready for the second half and the announcement of the Fools’ 24th season.

fools-logo-small

First off, of course, is the Fools annual SWEETS AND SONNETS DELIVERY, wherein you can hire your very own Fool to deliver a Shakespeare sonnet to your loved one, in person, on Valentine’s Day (OR Mother’s Day this year!).  Tell your sweetheart how much they mean to you by embarrassing them at their place of work!  To accompany this announcement, it was time for the annual crowning of the new King or Queen of Fools!  With last years departing Queen in attendance, the torch was passed to Rowan, who proved a generous monarch indeed when he appointed his Mother (Fools alum Virginia West, last seen inn HENRY V) to receive an onstage sonnet from AL Connors himself.  Hail Rowan, wisely may he rule!

Next up was announcement of the OTTAWA THEATRE CHALLENGE in honour of World Theatre Day on March 27.  We were treated to a performance of last years winning piece by Melanie Karin, which I’ll just call LIP SMACKERS in lieu of actually knowing the title.  Good stuff!  The multi-company battle (with 48 hour prep time to keep things interesting) will happen again this year at the 4th Stage, for the coveted Rubber Chicken Award!

The next proclamation was an exciting one indeed, a the Fools make their first venture into non-Shakespearean territory.  From May 7th to 25th, Ottawa will be witness to Nassim Soleimanpour’s hit show WHITE RABBIT RED RABBIT at Arts Court library.  A play like no other from the sounds of it, the show will feature a different lead actor EVERY NIGHT, for a total of 18 performers over the run…and none of them get to see the script until the moment they get on stage!!  I’m so stoked for this  I can’t tell ya…apparently the show killed at Summerworks and Edinburgh Fringe, and I’m already making plans to see it at LEAST twice.  And the ticket price?  Well, you might be delighted to hear that the Fools, fools that they are, have made the official decision to take their pass-the-hat, pay-what-you-can pricing model from their outdoor shows, and apply it to their INDOOR shows as well.  So yeah, no excuses for missing this one, Ottawa.

And the big show of the year, the touring TORCHLIGHT SHAKESPEARE park show that will be celebrating its tenth (give or take) year this year?  The Fools have tapped directorial juggernaut Catriona Leger, who will take the reins of THE MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR from July 3rd to August 17th at parks across the region.  A short excerpt from Billy Shakes’ goofy comedy was performed to our giddy amusement, and Catriona’s excitement about the show was pretty infectious.  Oh, and opening day, July 3rd?  That will also, by proclamation of the Mayor, be pronounced officially as COMPANY OF FOOLS DAY in Ottawa.  Yeah, I think our little Fools are starting to make people notice them.  Good news.

An Andrew Alexander pic of last year's amazing Torchlight Shakespeare show, HENRY V.

An Andrew Alexander pic of last year’s amazing Torchlight Shakespeare show, HENRY V.

But wait, there’s more!!  A second Shakespeare joint (call it TORCHLIGHT TOO) will follow WIVES up in September, this one directed by the Queen herself, Margo MacDonald.  Her show, appearing indoors at three different theatres in town, is HAL AND FALSTAFF, an adaptation featuring all the good Falstaff bits from HENRY IV I & II, and a little bit of HENRY V.  I think it’ll probably be along the lines of Orson Welles’ classic CHIMES AT MIDNIGHT…but probably with more foam swords.  Both shows will star the Fools’ new acting company:  Chris Ralph (who will play Falstaff in both shows, too), Simon Bradshaw, John Doucet, Melanie Karin, Geoff McBride, and Katie Ryerson.  A sweeter lineup you’d have to be a fool to hope for.

I’d call the night a great success…fun was had, great shows were announced, the Company reached their fundraising goal and then some, and I even won some swag in the raffle!  This swag might be turned into contest-fodder on this blog in the next week or so, so stay tuned!  And start planning your summer now, gang…it’s a great year to be a Fool in Ottawa.  Peace, love and soul,

The Visitor

The Beat Machine

In Theatre on January 3, 2013 at 12:49 am

I’m probably going to finish most of the bottle of whiskey sitting next to me as I write this review, fair warning.  But then, that just feels to me like what you should do when writing about a show inspired by the life, times, words and legend of William S.Burroughs, the grumpy old man of Kerouac’s Beat Generation.  And when that show is UNDERBELLY from Stars and Hearts, aka Jayson McDonald, one of my personal Theatre heroes and the creator of incredible shows like BOAT LOAD and GIANT INVISIBLE ROBOT…well, Hell son, I’ll drink to that.

UNDERBELLY is McDonald’s one-man show (directed by longtime collaborator Jeff Culbert, a theatrical force in his own right and no fooling) about the aforementioned beat-poet legend Burroughs, probably most famous these days for his novel NAKED LUNCH, among others.  Old man Burroughs was an eclectic thinker to say the least, a brilliant wordsmith, a refreshingly unrepentant junkie, and pretty much a hardcore nihlist.  So, this is not exactly GIANT INVISIBLE ROBOT II.  But that turns out to be a very good thing indeed.

Underbelly_poster

Moving from scene to scene in slouched pose and crumpled suit, MacDonald leads us thru the fragments of fact and fiction that comprise his take on the Burroughs legend, including a seriously impressive bit in which the poet’s famous ‘cut-up’ technique is demonstrated both verbally AND visually…it looks about as simple as juggling live sharks, and Jay Mac pulls it off with style.  It’s a verbally heavy show, delivered in a patois that sounds eerily Hunter S.Thompson-esque to my ears, but it all works…MacDonald takes to the deft wordplay in his script like a duck to water, impressing consistently in increasingly oddball scenes about societal hypocrisy, police brutality, drug abuse and nuclear holocaust, among many others.  McDonald’s emulation of Burroughs’ style, and the beats in general, is flawless (Alan Moore could take a tip or two from him, having tried the same trick in his BLACK DOSSIER hardcover and not succeeding half as well), and pretty endlessly entertaining to listen to.

A few guest-stars feature into the show, including Jack Kerouac and Alan Ginsburg, with beautifully staged shifts that take a nice twist on the traditional one-manner approach to multiple characters.  It’s an amazing, psychedelic show, with some pretty cool light and sound cues (from Culbert and McDonald themselves) that accentuate the closely controlled madness we’re witnessing, or what some folks call genius.  Close line to tread, really.  Thank Fuck we have our own mad genius Jayson McDonald to guide us through, and he does it in a performance you’ll remember for as long as you can remember things.  This is the best way I can think of to start the year, and there’s a seriously good chance I’ll be be back again tomorrow.  UNDERBELLY is good medicine, folks.  Take it, and see how it surprises you.  Because it WILL.  Peace, love and soul,

The Visitor