This show had me super excited…I ended up getting off work at the drudgery mighty early on Sunday (thank you ribfest for stealing all our business!) And made it out in time for a 3pm show at the Fringe.  The one that fit perfectly into that timeslot was a production called INNOCENT WHEN YOU DREAM from Elephant and Peanut out of Austin.  What had me excited the most about this show..?  I knew next to nothing about it.  And boyoboy, the sky’s the limit when you go in blind, am I right?  Of course I’m right…on with the show!

DREAM stars Zeb L.West as a man with a problem…he’s stuck inside the belly of a whale, a recurring problem at the Ottawa Fringe festival, it would seem (note: Mi Casa in-joke!).   He’s been stuck in there for a long, long time, and to pass his boredom he’s been reading and re-reading the two classic books on hand…Don Quixote, and Moby Dick. What results is a strange and almost disarmingly delightful mashup of the two using puppetry, songs, and some appropriately goofy but often ingenious props.  Zeb himself does some very fun character work, always returning to his own defeated everyman persona when he’s not making merry as Ahab or Quixote.  I say defeated, because it turns out there’s a reason our hero has been swallowed up into this deep dark pit, and it’s not a happy one.  Although the play itself certainly manages to keep smiles on everyone’s faces throughout.

Zeb L.West and friend...Pic by Jeff Moreaux.
Zeb L.West and friend…Pic by Jeff Moreaux.

I really quite loved the use of the iconic stories on display here as love stories, and even metaphors for whichever whale we ourselves find ourselves suddenly lost within.  The central story of our narrator was all-too common, and was interesting to look at through this fantastical lens.  It was a lower-key performance than I might have been expecting, and could maybe have used a little more energy, but then again maybe not.  Check it out and decide for yourself, but it definitely is worth checking out.  Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid, the Visitor (and Winston)

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