Another year, another Fringe…I’ve come to believe this is literally the only good reason to have years at all. As I returned to the courtyard (okay, just after last night’s epic opening night party, but whatever), bought my trio of Fringe pins and made my show lists for the thousandth time, I tried to convince myself to pace things over the next 11 days. I plan to see a LOT of shows, after all, and I’m not as young as I used to be.
Then I told myself, Fuck that, I’m YOUNGER than I used to be, and stormed off to my first show of the 2014 Ottawa Fringe Festival in a blur of anti-logic. And that first show was a complete mystery to me, MR AND MRS JONES, straight out of New Zealand and into the Arts Court Courthouse. They came all that way, it would seem downright rude of me not to at least make the trek down the hall to see what they thought was worth bringing all this way to show us.
The show by You Rung? Productions starts creators Lizzie Tollemache and David Ladderman as the titular couple, a pair of skilled street mentalists/illusionists in 19th century New Zealand who fall in love. For her, it was his eyes. For him, it was the way she hammered that nail into her own skull. Love works in mysterious ways. They soon team up to perform bigger and bigger shows, capitalizing on their increasing notoriety by planning something truly spectacular.
Part live mentalist session, part history lesson, MR AND MRS JONES is a very slickly staged show, told with impossible-to-resist charm by Tollemache and Ladderman. They’re two top-notch performers and tricksters with great chemistry and a clear joy for their source material. The illusions are spiffy and entertaining indeed (and yes, some audience volunteerism DOES happen, but it’s quite painless and looked rather fun to me). The story of the Jones’, which may or may not be a genuinely real slice of history (I sure hope it is, because it’s an awesome story), is told with panache and a sly wink. I was happily engrossed from minute one. It’s a cool magic show, a vibrant historical docudrama, and a singular love story all in one. Great stuff, and a fantastic start to my 2014 Ottawa Fringe. Keep it coming. Peace, love and soul,