I’m gonna be an honest little cynic with you for a hot moment…land acknowledgements just aren’t my thing. I mean, I get the idea, sure, and there’s some pleasant intent in there. But most of them feel to me like apologizing for stealing someone’s teevee set….and then going home and watching all your shows on that very same set without giving it back. A lot of hot air, yeah? That’s just how it feels most of the time.
So when Velvet Wells came out and, in the opening seconds of his show (RE)TIRED MAGICAL BLACK MAN gave a land acknowledgement that actually mattered, that felt like it really meant something, that put its money where it mouth was, and made me lean forward in my seat and say ‘holy shit, now I’m paying attention’? Oh yeah. I was in for something special.
The tale, as far as the plot goes, of a goodhearted Djinn (not ‘genie’) named dJerald who finds himself in conflict with a space-obsessed oligarch named Clark, and teams up with a few of his puppet pals to stand up to Clark’s dreaded Doublespace industries and heist world peace for the good of all sentient beings. A cavalcade romp of seriously catchy songs and absurd adventure ensues. And I don’t know if I’m going to see a more ‘Fringe’ Fringe show this year, but that will be a tall order indeed. For heart and imagination and pure inventive joy, this is going to be awfully hard to beat. In truth, I can’t recall the last time I felt so overjoyed to be in an audience, and feel like I was present for something truly wonderful. Featuring inclusive ASL interpretation and audio description of the onstage action, this show felt like an affirmation that, yes, every so-called ‘woke’ movement in theatre can be done well, and they can be done awesome. This whole show was just goddamn awesome. A sweet, fantastic and, yes, magical ode to the wish-fulfilling power of theatre and the arts. Pretty sure myself and the entire opening night audience felt like jumping for joy when this one was over, and I’d be happy to see it again before the fest is over. But in the meantime, you can grab a ticket for one of the remaining performances at Studio 1201 at the Ottawa Fringe website here! Peace, love and soul,
Kevin R (and Baby G)