I was supposed to be writing this post in a Horror style, as suggested to me by the luvly Jenny David. But it’s been kicking my ass for the last day, and I’m running out of time, so I’m just gonna charge ahead with it regular-like for the moment, and see if I can’t shoehorn Horror in there somewhere down the road.
Anyhow, the first Friday of MY SUMMER CRUSH, hosted by Crush Improv at Arts Court was upon us, and it was time for the first comedy/theatre offerings of the series to hit the stage. And there was a packed house in there for good reason…we were in for a good old fashioned double bill courtesy of Cory Thibert and Tony Adams at May Can Theatre, who were rolling out their two most recent Fringe Festival smash-hits, HAPPINESStm and WOLVES>BOYS. I snagged a sweet spot up front with the likes of Leslie Cserepy and Jonah Allingham (sidenote: I’m hearing seriously good things about his upcoming second edition of the FRESH MEAT festival. Get excited.), got myself a glass of wine (the beer wasn’t pouring right, don’t worry, I’m not going posh on y’all), and settled in for the fun to begin.
First up was HAPPINESStm, from this year’s Ottawa Fringe, but already with enough exciting twists and tweaks to make it almost a new show. Streamlined, well-suited to the more conventional space, and most notably no longer featuring superstar Ray Besharah, except in a side-splitting promotional video. There, we learn the story of ‘Mr.Carpenter’, founder of HPL, a company that boasts nothing less than the selling of Happiness itself (in handy product form). Enter James Lemon and Peter Barrel (Tony and Cory), two sometimes-antagonistic salesmen out to work the room and get us into the HPL spirit. A hilarious first half features the pair acting out absurd onstage scenarios to demonstrate the effectiveness of their dubious wares, stuff like the ‘happy hook-up’, which amounts to trying a painful-looking elastic around your head to force a smile. It’s a seriously effective sendup of corporate sales seminars, and would make for a great show in itself. But a mysterious call from Carpenter takes young Lemon out of the room for a minute, and when he returns…the mood turns, and the game is on.
Happiness takes it’s beautifully simple and twisted premise and uses it very, very well to tear open the dark heart of brainwashing scam-schemes and corporate doublespeak, and is a mighty fine showcase for the May Can lads to show what they can do (the dance number is a pretty goddamn amazing high point). This show, like the next one up was directed by the always amazing Mado Boyes-Manseau, who is great person to have showing you the way. Loved, LOVED how well the show worked in Arts Court studio. This was a great show, made greater.
Second up was WOLVES>BOYS, winner of last years ‘name most people screwed up’ award at Fringe. Mostly the same, tho I think they tweaked it a little off the top just to fit the space, W>B follows Lawrence (Cory Thibert) and pal Isaac (Tony Adams), two longtime friends meeting up for the first time in months…at a graveyard.
The graveyard was dark. Not far from where the boys met, a funeral was in progress. And one of them knew who it was being buried. Oh yes. He knew all too well.
But the body would wait. First…first came the Wolves. Wolves from an ancient time, spirit animals with a neverending taste for flesh.
Ghost wolves. Howling in the moonlight. For reals.
Their terrible story of blood and hunger, wolf versus wolf, played out before our terror-stricken eyes and pun-filled ears, mirroring the journey of the boys themselves, alone in the graveyard but for mourners, and the ghosts that may or not lay disturbed around them. We all lay on the razor’s edge.
A baby screamed. A glass shattered. And from out of one of the tombstones itself…music. Like the bones themselves were playing their sweet song of death.
Seriously. Right out of the fucking TOMBSTONE. Scary, right?
Okay, that’s enough horror…don’t want ot scare you all TOO much. W>B was just as fun this time as when I saw it the first time, even if the lads have found it plays much better in the great outdoors, where I hope to see them perform it one of these days. They’re off on the road with this one to the Fundy Fringe soon, and I got a feeling they’re gonna like it out there. The show is personal, heartfelt and damn funny even when it’s being tragic…LOVE the breakup scene.
Had a blast that night, hung with some good folk and saw two amazing shows in a supercool crowd. My Summer Crush is off to a rocking good start, and I know I’m not alone in thinking so. And the weekend isn’t over yet…Saturday is officially KIRSTEN RASMUSSEN day at MSC, and I’m planning on turning my blog over to a super-special guest writer to cover both Kirsten’s workshop and show…can’t wait for both. If you’re in town and not at this series at some point, I seriously think you’re missing out huge. This is the best thing to happen to August since I downloaded season three of The Flying Nun (which was last week, if you’re interested in a marathon…call me.) Peace, love and soul,
Kevin Reid, the Visitor (and Winston).