One more long, late night walk/run for me on my third full day of Montreal Fringe Festival action…which was really not advisable because my foot was in considerable pain at this time, but what the Hell. I’ve always said, it’s important to suffer for other people’s art, and that’s what I was racing towards at the MAI venue. Some Goddamn ART, people. Art with dinosaurs, actually. Which as we all know is better than regular art by at least 50%.
My last show of the night was of course Moon Dinosaur Theatre’s PALEONCOLOGY, written and performed by Kira Hall, and already the owner of maybe the most iconic image of the 2014 Fringe…Miss Hall herself peering out of green, full body Dino-jammies. Me, I love one-woman shows AND Dinosaurs (I’m even writing a dino-themed one-woman show myself, coming someday), so I was dying to see what Kira, a CCPA grad and puppeteer amongst other credits, had come up with for this show.
The story follows Lee, a young woman recently unemployed after walking out of an uninspiring waitressing gig that didn’t put a lot of her college degree into play. She’s living with her emotionally distant parents, hiding in her room, and being forced to see a therapist…all mostly because of the fact that her older brother has just been diagnosed with Cancer. This may or may not be the reason Lee won’t take her oversized dino-jammies off. ‘They’re comfortable’, she protests, less and less convincingly. Through a variety of puppets, toys, overhead projectors and voiceovers, Kira slowly tells the story of life growing up with big bro Daniel (whose ambitionless ways may be threatening to rub off on little sis) and how his diagnosis is impacting her now. A series of edu-tainmental Dinosaur factoids serve to shed some analogous light on Lee’s situation, and are pretty great fun in and of themselves.
Given some smart direction from Andrew Young (Hall’s partner on a previous show, WE WALK AMONG YOU, set to return to Montreal stages soon!), PALEONCOLOGY makes its cutesy take on a serious problem work wonders. Kira Hall is a strong performer and absolutely scary smart, and has full command over her considerable script at every moment, big paleontological tongue-twister words and all. Part of me wanted JUST a little more of an emotional payoff in this one, but then, I’m a fan of melodrama from way back. In the end, the show’s understated approach works just perfectly, letting the reality of the situation speak for itself…even as the dinosaurs do their best to soften the blow. A show with plenty of heart, tons of smarts, and talent to spare. Check it out. Peace, love and soul,