Second show of the 2014 Ottawa Fringe Festival, and second show in a row (of three, as it would turn out) in the BYOV Courthouse venue. Which was no problem, I dig the courthouse, it’s a pretty sweet little room. And this year, I definitely wanted to see ALL of the shows that were playing within its walls, and few more than the one I was about to catch.
The show up next was MOONLIGHT AFTER MIDNIGHT from Concrete Drops, part of the Martin Dockery trifecta at this year’s festival (along with his sol show THE SURPRISE, and a production of one of his older scripts PACO V PUT TO SLEEP by Black Sheep Theatre). This particular show was one Dockery wrote and performs in with Vanessa Quesnelle, who Ottawa last saw as a duo in last year’s THE PIT. That show rocked, so it was gonna be a treat to see them back onstage together again, in what turned out to be a world-premiere performance at that.
A man sits alone in a room, staring out at the stars. A woman enters, singing a sad old love song. After a moment, their eyes meet, and…then what? They fall in love, they glare angrily, they haven’t a clue who they are…it seems to change and reset as the play goes on, but a few constants remain. A comet wanes in the night sky, a Wedding looms just down the hall, and a man and a woman look into each other’s eyes and everything changes. This is a script that’s kind of hard to talk about without pedantically giving everything away, so I’m gonna stop right there, and say that this is a goddamn incredible show. For those familiar with Dockery’s solo storytelling shows, this piece highlights a vulnerable side of his persona that doesn’t often come out in his more animated performances, and it’s wonderful. And Vanessa Quesnelle is simply impossible to take your eyes off of, smart, sultry and commanding the moment she hits the stage. It’s evident that these two love working together, and this script seems tailor-made just for the two of them (which I suspect, of course, it actually was). The twists and turns that the play puts these two wonderful actors through are each more intriguing than the last, understated and subtle but somehow life-changing. A few simple lighting tricks are used to pretty sweet effect along the way, putting the icing on the cake. This is just great theatre, folks, with a gripping story and performances and an ending that just may break your heart. Not only well worth seeing, but well worth seeing AGAIN once you’ve seen it the first time. Lord knows I’m considering it. Peace, love and soul,