Well it had to happen, a rainy day at the Ottawa Fringe…wouldn’t have seemed right without at least ONE downpour, and somehow apt that it fell on the midway point in the festival. But a proper Fringer is immune to weather, and I made the modest sprint through the raindrops to a BYOV I hadn’t been back to in a while, the cozy Café Alt on Ottawa U campus (they have couches!) for some theatre to warm my chilled bones
My show there was BY ANY OTHER NAME, a new work written and directed by Owen Walker. A clever twist on Shakespearean identity-swapping romps, the story follows Ashley and Connor, two 20-somethings who accidentally ‘meet’ via a misfired e-mail one day, which leads to a long and increasingly intense correspondence. Finally deciding to meet, but without ever actually having exchanged pictures or even last names (a bit of a stretch in the age of social media, but just roll with it), Ashley starts to get nervous and hatches a plot and enlists kindly Patti to pretend to be her, and see if Connor passes muster. A salient plan…except Connor hatches almost the identical plot with HIS pal Robert. And the romantic comedy hijinks, they are thus commenced.
The show stars Madeleine hall and David Rowan as Ashley and Connor, and Bruce Spinney and Ellen Manchee as Robert and Patti (aka the fake Connor and Ashley), with Tiffani Kenny popping in from time to time as the waitress. There’s some smart dialogue and well realized characters at play here, even if the script never quite lives up to the potential of its own plot. The whole show felt like it needed to be moving about 25% faster, as a few of the exchanges started to drag unnecessarily. First time Director Walker stages the scene simply, and has a good crew of actors to help bring the action to life. Hall and Spinney are especially memorable as overly analytical Ashley and laid-back Robert, respectively. A few solid laughs, zingers, a likeable cast and an unexpected resolution make for a sweet and enjoyable show that should at least put a good smile on your face. Bonus Tip: the lovely paintings adorning the set walls are by Walker himself and Michele Beauregard, and are indeed for sale! Peace, love and soul,