Given my own personal covid anxiety, I wasn’t sure if I even would DO any Fringing this year, much less multiple shows in one day. Not sure if I’m proud of myself for packing three in on day one, or if I’m an idiot. But at least I’m a happy idiot, if so. Quite frankly, I think we were all pretty happy idiots in the audience for my next show at Ottawa Fringe 2022.
I’ve been lucky enough to see the great Rob Gee in action a few times now (including his previous Ottawa visit with FRUITCAKE way back in 2011), and he never disappoints. I’d say the word isn’t in his vocabulary, but I feel there aren’t many words he is not a master of. And in FORGET ME NOT – THE ALZHEIMER’S WHODUNIT he uses plenty of ‘em, to hilarious and heartwrenching effect. Not his typical collection of performance poetics, or at least, not exactly…this one is exactly what the name implies, a murder mystery with Alzheimers at it’s heart. Gee, a former nurse who knows of what the speaks in medical matters, as well as a maestro at manipulating language to his own entertaining ends, turns this premise into a powerhouse show. Performing as multiple characters, we are drawn into the tale of an elderly husband mourning the loss of his Alzheimer’s-stricken wife at a psyche facility, only to suspect that there may be more to her demise than meets the eye.
True Fringe glory ensues, as Gee introduces us to his unforgettable cast of characters, from dopey everyman nurse Dean to a consistently dramatically lit police inspector who couldn’t un-mix a metaphor to save his life. Memorable lines and zingers fly (“She had a face like a bonnet that had just been trampled”) as the mystery deepens, the laughs keep coming, and the warm heart at the center of the show is slowly but surely revealed. And that is the love Gee clearly has for his daft characters, no matter what disease they’ve got, or what label the world has given them. They’re all just people, in their silly, wonderful nuttiness. And isn’t that marvelous? This is an easy one for the can’t miss file, so do yourself a favour and don’t. Playing at Arts Court Theatre, tickets available at the Ottawa Fringe website here. Peace, love and soul,
Kevin R (and Baby G)