An interesting day for me at the Ottawa Fringe today. Caught three good shows, and will begin writing about’em any minute now! It was also the tenth anniversary of the very first time I wandered into said Fringe, and the path of my life changed forever. That’s of no hoohaa to anyone but me, and maybe my Otter, but there you are. It’s gotten me in an oddly melancholy mood, which seems a bit apropos for the show I’m about to set to scrawling about, a personal and down-home tale straight from the heart.
The brainchild of creator and performer Jim Loucks and inspired by his own childhood and family, THE BISCUITEATER tells the tale of young Jim and his Grandfather. Granddaddy is something of a legend,…tough as nails, a former policeman, and married to a woman every bit his equal. In li’l Jimmy’s eyes, his granddaddy is something superhuman, especially due to an infamous incident years earlier, and he longs to be just like him. But Jim is a tad more naturally timid than his Grandad…loud noises scare him, he’s unsure of himself, and has secret fears of becoming a ‘biscuiteater’, slang for a hunting dog who is spooked by gunfire and must content itself with being a mere housepet. Jim wants to be a gunslinging hero like granddad! But his grandpa, for all his dapper wiles and tough-guy mystique, is much less of a movie cowboy than young Jim could realize, and harbors his own deep, dark doubts and fears.
With direction by Lisa Chess, Jim Loucks tells this heartfelt and personal legend with what must be approaching the dictionary definition of Southern charm. Warm and personable, Jim looks you dead on as he reminisces with an exuberant gleam in his eyes and a smile on his face about growing up on this side of the dirt road or that, his Preacher daddy, getting his first BB gun and, of course, his Grandfather. Switching from one character to another with little fuss and great effect, and peppering the whole affair with some classic country ballads crooned in his cool Southern drawl (and oh, how we Canucks love us a Southern drawl..!), Jim crafts a slow and steady emotional journey centered on our two main characters, one at the beginning of his life, and the other dealing with the coming end. The pivotal event which has shaped a lot of Jim’s Grandfather’s legend is quite pleasantly downplayed in the story, as it could easily have overshadowed everything and turned this into an issue play (which is a fine thing, but it is not THIS thing). As it stands, it almost becomes larger and more overshadowing simply because of how little it is talked about…and when it is, it burns. The Biscuiteater is an enormously enjoyable family portrait of life, love, death, and making peace with your shortcomings. It’s a show you leave smiling, and probably humming too. Like the song says…you’ll fly away. Peace, love and soul,
Kevin R (and Baby G)
PS check for the Biscuiteater’s remaining showtimes and ticket info HERE!