Youth Infringement 2013 – Nine out of Ten (shows)!

Finally managed another full, fun night of Youth Infringement this Thursday eve, after a few missed opportunities.  Gotta be honest, I feel like I’m letting you kids down this year with my ultra-tardiness on seeing and reviewing the shows, but thank heavens it doesn’t seem to matter very much…crowds were amazing for yesterday’s second-week lineup, nearly sold out from what I could see.    I helped myself to a second viewing of Tony Adams’ great NEBRASKA (I’m officially calling Kate Boone my awesomest discovery at this years festival, and can’t wait to see what she does next), and ate some tasty cupcakes (I believe baked by the lovely Lily Sutherland, junior Producer extraordinaire), and then a trio of new-to-me shows.  Here’s the rundown:

– from Writer John Ryan and Director Aidan Parchelo.  Going full-on and unabashedly meta from the get-go, this one centers on a pair of at-first unnamed characters (Shelby Fairbairn and Nick Nahwegahbow, both pretty darn impressive onstage) trying to figure out what sort of situation the playwright has landed them in.  As they try and decide if they’re in a murder mystery or a dreaded ‘modern’ play, they’re joined by a gardener (Johnathan Vien in fine scene-stealing mode) and a cop/dancer (Garret Brink in his second show of the festival), which does not make things any clearer.  A few kooky scene changes and sudden bursts of violence ensue, leading to a final act battle of wits with Hamlet (don’t ask) and treatise on the nature of free will.
While that last scene gets a little over-heavy and meta isn’t everyone’s cuppa tea, the show is still a good fun ride, with two strong lead performances buoyed nicely by solid support from Brink and Vien.  And anything that reminds me of Grant Morrison’s run on ANIMAL MAN can’t be a bad thing.


– from Writer Matt Hertendy and Director Jeremy Piamonte.  Hertendy’s second script of the festival (after BEARSNAKE) is another slightly psycho comic gem, starring a very hilarious Aaron Lajeunesse as the insufferable Dr.Smart, a psychiatrist apparently come to fill in for the mysteriously absent Jenkins of the title. Eccentric not even beginning to cover his therapeutic style, Smart rather quickly tests the nerves of his hardworking assistant Colleen (Lisa Johnston in a very strong performance), variously chloroforming, abusing and otherwise torturing his various patients (played by Jayson Thompson and Amanda Logan).  What secret does Doctor Smart hold, and why does his approach to psychotherapy have the best/worst acronym ever?  It’s a very funny ride as Colleen struggles to get to the truth, through hoboes, sex addicts, and occasional small arms fire.  Maybe the best laugh-out-loud romp at this years festival that I’ve seen.

– from Writer David Coleman and Director Brie MacFarlane. It’s Youth Infringement, so you know damn well there’ll be at least ONE play set in purgatory, and Coleman has not disappointed with this foray into the realm between. A trio of friends (Peter Knowlton, Rebecca Laviolette and Mike Connors) find themselves rather unexpectedly deceased and awaiting judgement in the nether world.  Their judge comes in the scenery-chewing form of Martin Glassford as Mephistopholes (or Metastopholes, depending on which line of the program you care to read…either works for me), a sort of cosmically powered game-show host, tasked with replaying the defining moments from your life to decide what happens to you next.  Glassford has a blast with the scope of his prankster character, his antics balancing nicely the darkness revealed in the harrowing moments he brings to light.  Limbo does tend to fall into the classic trap of so many supernatural-themed works…namely an overabundance of ‘Where are we’ and ‘Who are you’ and ‘You just don’t get it, do you’.  It kinda makes sense from a writerly point of view, but that doesn’t make the repetition any more fun to watch.  But as noted, there’s lots of other gooodness going on in this piece…Peter Knowlton delivers strong work as seemingly lily-pure Richard, and Rebecca Laviolette’s dance sequence with Glassford is worth the price of admission by itself.  And in the end, a nice bit of food for thought about just how important a single moment can be.

That MAY be it for me at this years festival…unless PERFECT PITCH makes it into the final three, that will get a repeat performance on Saturday night (the winner of that evening will go on to a slot at the Fringe Festival in June).  But in case this is it, a huge well-done to this years producer Christine Hecker, who made this one bigger and better than ever, and with great houses along the way.  Still sorry I’m missing both panel discussions, and I hope next year’s producer Lily Sutherland will consider keeping them, or something like them, around.  Also, one quick shoutout to all the Stage Managers of this festival, who never get the love they deserve.  Athena Green, Maggie Matian, Emily Grandy,Hailey Masterson, Kara-Lyne Weaver, Katherine Dermott, Tak Pham, Ryan Acheson, Rachel Worton and David Hania..?  Take a fuckin’ bow, you’ve earned it.  Thanks for another fun festival everybody, and if I don’t see you on Saturday, then I WILL see you next year.  Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid, the Visitor (and Winston)

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