One last show for me for day 4 of the 2014 Ottawa Fringe Festival…it would be my fifteenth, and while that’s actually a little lower than what I had planned for this time, I’m feeling good about it. I can honestly say I’ve enjoyed everything that I’ve seen so far, and had a good vibe about the net one to come. Having just played over in Montreal at THEIR Fringe, I had missed it duing my brief time over there but had no intention of missing it here.

A one-manner by Bradley Spann, ME AND MY MONKEY is his solo autobigraphical show about growing up in South Central LA with a single Mother, house full of abusive sisters, a somewhat deadbeat Dad giving the occasional ride and lecture to them all…and of course, the monkey. Talking us through his early years with genuine charm, Bradley starts off the show with the fateful car ride in which one of his sisters somehow convinces her Dad to buy her a pet Monkey for her birthday. Bradley, having just been chewed out for asking for a single comic book (he has serious geek love for the Silver Surfer, but Dad just thinks he should be playing football like a ‘normal’ kid), is flabbergasted. And things roll merrily, and occasionally miserably, onwards from there.

Bradley Spann in ME AND MY MONKEY (pic by Karen Spies)
Bradley Spann in ME AND MY MONKEY (pic by Karen Spies)

Given some sharp direction from Claire Patton, this is a perfectly engaging show from a performer/creator whose investment in the material is impossible to ignore. Universal struggles like sibling rivalry and disapproving parents are given a fresh feel from Bradley’s animated storytelling…he’s a big, soft-spoken and eloquent man who seems very easy with a smile, and it’s pretty infectious. There are some strong emotional payoffs in this show, especially a moment in his later years when he finally has a chance to triumph over his Father after years of being put down…and the darker moments are balanced nicely with childhood comic book fantasies, and of course the titular monkey (and did I mention there’s also a raccoon? Because there’s a raccoon too). Different chapters in the story are transitioned to via some catchy tunes, and there’s one particular lighting cue that really makes a strong impression. Bradley Spann is a wonderful fellow to listen to, and you’ll like what has to tell you at the Arts Court Library. And admit it, you really want to hear more about this monkey. Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid

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