Just when I thought my summer was all outta park shows, somebody comes along and finds more parks! Good thing too, I needed something else to see while My Summer Crush gets up and running. This show kinda came out of the blue, put up by some swell kids calling themselves the Screaming Artists Collective (and with the assistance, so I’ve seen on Facebook, of Ottawa Stage Combat in some capacity). Unlike the other touring park shows of summer, this one is a brand new piece, JE Brogan’s THE CHRONICLER, directed by Chris McLeod.
The show is a bit of what-if fanfiction, essentially, something one might expect to happen in Alan Moore’s League of Extraordinary Gentlemen shared universe. Taking place in mid-seventeenth century France, our story involves a meeting between legendary musketeer Aramis (playwright Brogan himself) crossing swords, very literally at times, with celebrated fellow swordsman Cyrano de Bergerac (Tim Oberholzer). At first they quarrel over Cyrano’s published writings (found in a local newsrag called The Chronicler, hence the title), with the aging Aramis incensed over implications of disloyalty in the poet’s words. Cyrano takes umbrage at this, and it’s all Aramis’ fiery niece Jacinthe (Danielle Savoie, who also serves as narrator for our tale) can do to keep them from each other’s throats. Cooler heads soon prevail, at least momentarily, and Cyrano begins making regular visits to Aramis’ home for reflection, comparing war stories, and keeping an eye on Jacinthe (who quickly becomes enamoured of the warrior-poet, nose or no).
Adding to the fun are Reena Belford as a quick-witted cook with an odd penchant for setting fires, Aaron Lajeunesse as an excitable would-be soldier, director McLeod as Cyrano’s favoured baker and confidant, and Jeremy Piamonte filling things out in a couple of small roles. CHRONICLER is a fun enough time out, although I couldn’t help but wish there’d been some more meat to the story. A meeting between two of fiction’s greatest swashbucklers is a grand occasion and could have used more of an event to back it up. Danielle Savoie, longtime Visitorium fav’rit, is wunnerful as Jacinthe, but as a potential love interest to Cyrano has rather a lot to live up to in the shadow of Roxanne. She and Aramis have a curious subplot going on about her status in his family that never quite had the impact I hoped for. The best moments, however, are usually when she and Cyrano are in on the action (they have one of my fav’rit swordfights of the piece, short but slick), although Lajeunesse and Belford do some sweet scene-stealing from time to time as well. The staging is fairly simple, to be expected in a park show, but could have used some pepping up here and there, especially during Cyrano and Aramis’ several lengthy conversations. All in all, though, a fun time out with some dandy fighting, pretty costumes, and a fun (if fluffy) script that has several memorable lines…how well it stays in canon with it’s respective source materials I’ll leave it up to others to decide for themselves. Arguing it is probably half the fun. CHRONICLER pays in parks around town for the next week and a half…here’s the rundown (note the Gladstone show in there, a last minute change from the Reid park location mentioned in the poster above):
16th Briargreen Park
17th Alta Vista Park
19th Strathcona Park
20th Gladstone Theatre
21st Hiawatha Park
22nd Iona Park
23rd New Edinburgh Park
24th Windsor Park
6:30 start times, pass the hat payment plan (except the Gladstone, which is straight up $15), and family friendly, so check it out if you wish! Do like me and Laviolette did and bring a picnic…it’s the right thing to do. Peace, love and soul,
Kevin Reid, the Visitor (and Winston)