The next time I feel sorry for myself for how far I have to travel (a whopping 40 minutes by bus) to get home from the Ottawa Fringe Festival, I’ll just remind myself of artists like Shirley Kirchmann. Shirley came all the bloody way from South Africa just to be a part of our merry little festival, and having met her a couple of times in the beer tent, I was already glad she’d made the effort even before seeing her show. Yesterday I finally made the trek out to the Avant-Garde bar, mentally prepared myself for the 1-drink minimum (pro tip: don’t order a draft, they have no idea how to pour over there and it will take forEVER), and managed to score a decent seat at the bar for the show.

The show is DERANGED DATING, a hybrid of standup comedy and one-woman theatre that points a skewering glare at Shirley’s history with the dating scene and the perils of the online setup. Featuring some fun character work, most especially when Shirley’s ‘relationship expert’ shows up to ostensibly give our gal a helping hand looking for love, with laughable results. Which is a good thing for us, but many will be feeling Shirley’s pain before the show is over as date after date with self-absorbed singles, and some not-so-singles goes disastrously wrong.

Shirley Kirchmann in DERANGED DATING
Shirley Kirchmann in DERANGED DATING

Shirley Kirchmann is a great comic and solid performer, and this show is a great showcase for her, especially highlighting her sharp, truthful writing style and easy charm. The no-tech venue doesn’t do her a lot of favours (though she still manages some great music-based moments, especially a wince-inducing date prep montage), and I sure hope I get the chance to see her perform again someday in a proper theatre, but for now I’ll happily settle for this and wouldn’t have missed it. Funny, insightful and pretty universal, you definitely want to hear what Shirley Kirchmann has to say. Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid

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