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Posts Tagged ‘backpack theatre’

Fresh Meat 2014 – Week One Preview!

In Theatre on October 13, 2014 at 12:31 pm

Okay, so I’m not really getting out to see or review, well, anything these days.  Which sucks, because I’m missing some cool shows, which is kind of unlike me.  But even with my suddenly loopy rehearsal schedule, even I will be getting out this Thursday to catch the opening night of the coolest theatre party in town, the third FRESH MEAT FESTIVAL.  From humble roots at the Pressed Cafe on Gladstone to last year’s shenanigans upstairs at the Lunenburg, the DIY Fest and brainchild of Jonah Allingham is back, this time in an honest to gosh theatre!  Or, okay, Arts Court Library, but they have risers now and everything!  And the Courtroom next door is being converted into a bar/lounge for in between and after shows, so I’m calling it an improvement.  Like last year, the event is split into two weeks, now with five different companies presenting their original, twenty-minute works each weekend from Thursday thru Saturday.  Ain’t no funner theatre bash in town, and here’s what you can look forward to having your collective worlds rocked by in the first weekend:

Backpack 2MY CARDBOARD LIFE from Backpack Theatre.  Written by and starring Fresh Meat Founder Jonah Allingham his own bad self, and directed by the awesome Katie Swift (who Ottawa last saw in the amazing HROSES from Evolution Theatre).   It don’t get much more do it yourself than cardboard box props, and that’s where Backpack is starting their latest theatrical adventure.  Back for the third time at Fresh Meat, following the wicked cool SUMMER OF ’34 and THE B TEAM.

Forstner and Fillister 1FORSTNER AND FILLISTER PRESENT: FORSTNER AND FILLISTER IN: FORSTNER AND FILLISTER from, you guessed it, Forstner and Fillister.  A two-man comedy about the wild world of woodworking, starring Will Somers and Dave Benedict Brown, and directed by Melanie Karin Brown.  That’s an impressive list of talent, and a whole lot of funny for just twenty minutes to try and contain.  Will they be able to build something sturdy enough to do the job??  Come and see.

Thunk! 1smash.bam.kapow. from Thunk! Theatre.   Superheroic misadventures from the wonderful Karen Balcome and Geoff McBride, the dynamic duo that brought us BREAD and FAR & NEAR & HERE, as well as being the current holders of the coveted Rubber Chicken Award.  Always innovative and inspirational, their presence is reason enough by itself to get your ticket.

ME AND MY MONSTER from Cart Before the Horse.  Starring the unstoppable Megan Carty (soon to be seen again at the Avalon Studio in a reprise of SHAPE OF A GIRL starting on the 31st) in a one-woman show about the monsters under all our beds.  Directed by Paul Griffin, and sure to be powerful medicine indeed.

Traced_Theatre_2THE BIG WEED from Traced Theatre.  Some killer comedy to round out the first weekend, in this offering from the awesome Alli Harris, Lindsay van der Grinten, and director Gabbie Lazarovitz. After a solid debut at this year’s Ottawa Theatre Challenge, I can’t wait to see what Traced comes up with now.

That’s it for opening weekend…tho I should mention that smash.bam.kapow will only be playing the first two nights, and a SUPER SECRET SHOW will be offered in its stead on Saturday!  Remember, the bar will be open the whole time, and you can get your advance tickets at the Fresh Meat Website!  See you there, and again same time next week for a peek at Week Two (About which I’m oddly overexcited, for some reason…)!  Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid (and Winston)

 

Fresh Meat 2013 Preview – Part 2!

In Theatre on October 23, 2013 at 8:27 am

Well, Week one of the second edition of the FRESH MEAT FESTIVAL in Ottawa is over, and kick me like a yappy poodle but it was a good damn time.  Where to start?  I was there on Thursday and Saturday, and got to see: two mighty hilarious sets from hosting heroes GRIMPROV; Whimsimole making a solid, funny theatrical debut with TEMP (featuring Nick Wade himself, hurrah!); the ladies of Little Green Hat making potato sacks look good in the haunting WHO WILL SEPARATE US?; Mado Boyes-Manseau being freaking amazing in her one woman drama TO HELL IN A HANDBASKET; Tony and Jake getting too close for comfort in Rapscallion Diversion’s MANIMALES; Nick Amott having too much fun with lighting effects in WAKE; and Thunk! Theatre being just all beautiful and wonderful in FAR & NEAR & HERE.  All this plus booze, friends, and all the ambient sound you can handle!  What more could you ask for?  A whole other weekend of that, perhaps?  You got it.  Here’s what to look forward to in the second spectacular week of the little theatre festival that just doesn’t give a fuck:

Tim, Kristine and Brooke of TWO AND A HALF WOMEN.

Tim, Kristine and Brooke of TWO AND A HALF WOMEN.

Hosting duties for part two fall, almost appropriately enough, to TWO AND A HALF WOMEN, a mighty improv trio consisting of Kristine Shadid, Brooke Cameron and Tim Anderson.  Formed in 2012 as part of Crush’s ‘Bout Time series, they quickly became one of the winningest and most beloved teams ever to make merry at the Elmdale Tavern.  Trust me, it will be VERY good to see them back together.

Tony Adams and Cory Thibert of MAY CAN THEATRE.

Tony Adams and Cory Thibert of MAY CAN THEATRE.

And the shows proper get underway as well, with Ottawa faves MAY CAN THEATRE, who most recently killed it at Fringe with their latest full lengther, HAPPINESS(tm), as well as a certain collaboration with BackPack Theatre (see below).  Now Cory and Tony are back at Fresh Meat with MOTION PASSED, their first ever collaboration with director Tania Levy.  Tania is all kinds of fantastic so this is more good news, folks, and I expect greatness from their tale of the Beautification and Improvement team of Sandy Hill.

The B Team. bitches.

The B Team. bitches.

Then there’s the company that Fresh Meat founder Jonah Allingham built, BACKPACK THEATRE.  After solo shows at the Fringe and original FM fest, Backpack and May Can teamed up for THE TRAGICALL HISTORIE OF NICK WADE (AND OTHER FUCK UPS) last summer, scoring the Future of the Fringe award (and yes, I may or may not have been in that show as well).  Backpack’s latest is THE B TEAM, an action-figure adventure about the unstoppable Bean Brothers, featuring Jonah, Nick Fournier, and Leslie Cserepy.

Obviously, A Theatre2

New to the Festival, but old hats at killer storytelling, OBVIOUSLY A THEATRE COMPANY are jumping in the Fresh Meat arena with their offering UNTITLED, UNPUBLISHED AND UNSETTLED, featuring three poetic performances by Fraser MacKinnon, Jean Nicolas Masson and Elizabeth McIelwain, for something a little off the usual path.

Dead Unicorn Ink2

One last original Fresh Meat Team, DEAD UNICORN INK are returning, hot off the remount of their Fringe hit CHESTERFIELD with their new show SCARS, written by Sylvie Recoskie, and featuring herself along with Ted and Patrice-Ann Forbes, and directed by Aaron Lajeunesse.  The story of what promises to be a terrifically uncomfortable morning after, DUI has a history of delivering some pretty cool goods, and this should be no exception.

EGODETH1

A welcome addition to the festival lineup this year is EGODETH, aka Norah Paton (who you may remember as director of the Fringe fav’rit AROUND MISS JULIE this past summer) and Kara Crabb, who are teaming up to bring us FORSAKEN DAUGHTERS OF WINTER, a story about ‘one woman’s journey through cultural carnage at the forefront of a new scientific era’.  Which, quite frankly, sounds like exactly my cuppa tea.  Can’t wait.

Here Be Dragons1

And finally, another new company tp Fresh Meat (and even more Ottawa Theatre School power, yay!) Caitlin Corbett’s HERE BE DRAGONS returns from her Fringe debut MORNING STAR with a whole new ensemble piece, FOUNDATIONS.  A story about the forgotten ghosts of the Rideau Canal, and featuring smooth Tim Oberholzer Nick Surges, and OTS alums Hannah Gibson-Fraser and Mitchel Rose, this is definitely one to look forward to.

The Festival runs for three remaining days, and costs 15$ a night or 25$ for the whole weekend.  If you already bought the full festival pass LAST weekend, then just come on in!  Here’s the lineup for each day (tho as before, the specific running order won’t be decided until the evening of the performances):

Thursday the 24th: Backpack, Here be Dragons, Egodeth, Obviously a Theatre Company.

Friday the 25th: Backpack, May Can, Dead unicorn Ink, Obviously a Theatre Company.

Saturday the 26th: May Can, Egodeth, Dead Unicorn Ink, Here be Dragons.

I promise, folks, you don’t want to miss a minute of this festival, even with the crumby bands occasionally bleeding through from below.  It just adds to the DIY fun!  Grounds up, hands on Theatre like this doesn’t happen every day, but thanks to enterprising and energetic little upstarts like the Fresh Meat gang, we’re getting closer all the time.  Come on and support them, like you know you want to.  See you there!  Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid, the Visitor (and Winston)

Coming Up in July ’13

In Theatre on July 3, 2013 at 8:23 am

Fringe is over, but Theatre marches on!  And happily, there’s still a good lot of stuffs going on in July to ease those post-courtyard separation anxieties:

NOISES OFF at the Ottawa Little Theatre.  Supposedly the funniest thing in the history of ever, the OLT’s 100th season barrels on with this comedy by Michael Frayn.  From the 2nd to the 20th.

485405_10152839469595618_1490274947_n
THE MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR from a Company of Fools. Torchlight Shakespeare enjoys its 10th anniversary with this lesser-seen bit of Billy Shakes with a killer cast, and directed by Catriona Leger!  Starts on the 2nd, check the Fools Website for a show in a park near you!

A COMEDY OF ERRORS from Bear and Company.  The new touring company in town is back with a western spin on the bard, directed by Anna Lewis.  Starts on the 4th, and the Bear and Co. website has all the goods on where they’ll be showing up next!

Victoria Grove in SAPPHO...IN 9 FRAGMENTS.  photo by Robert Piwko

Victoria Grove in SAPPHO…IN 9 FRAGMENTS. photo by Robert Piwko

SAPPHO…IN 9 FRAGMENTS at Arts Court Library, from Troupe de la Lune/10th Muse.  The Fringe smash is back for a short return engagement, and you do NOT want to miss this powerhouse performance from Victoria Grove in a play by Jane Griffiths and director Jessica Ruano.  The 4th to 6th only!

THE ST.LAWRENCE SHAKESPEARE FESTIVAL is back with another doozy of a double bill out Prescott way. Featuring HAMLET and the original comedy MAID FOR A MUSKET, as well as a bunch of extra programming peppered throughout the runs.  MAID kicks off on the 12th with HAMLET debuting on the 16th…check the SLSF website for all the details!

Nancy in ROLLER DERBY SAVED MY SOUL.pic by Richard Gilmore.

Nancy Kenny in ROLLER DERBY SAVED MY SOUL. pic by Richard Gilmore.

ROLLER DERBY SAVED MY SOUL at Arts Court Theatre!  Nancy Kenny’s one-woman wonder of a show is headed on cross-Canada tour, and she’s bringing it home to us for one night only to get ready.  July 13th at 7:30, advance tickets available HERE.

ARMS AND THE MAN in Strthcona Park, from Odyssey Theatre. Some Geroge Bernard Shaw, masque-style, for your parkbound entertainment pleasure!  Directed by the man Andy Massingham.  Starts on the 25th!

IDOMENEO at the Church of St.John the Evangelist, 154 Somerset West, from Boutique Opera.  A little class in your July, with some classic Opera on the 18th at 7pm!

The Gladstone Theatre’s ONE NIGHT ONLY SERIES continues after its June debut, running every Thursday thru Saturday this month with a variety of music and theatre each evening.  Full rundown at the website, but here are some of the Theatrical highlights for July:

summerof34redux
SUMMER OF ‘34:REDUX from Backpack Theatre.  An expanded version of the play Jonah Allingham debuted at last year’s FRESH MEAT festival, this slice of Canadiana hits the Gladstone on the 4th, then moves to the Happy Goat Coffee Company for the 5th thru 7th!  Facebook event page HERE.

2 WOMEN IN A 1 WOMAN PLAY by Silvia Kindl and Rachelle Todd.  Double billed with SUMMER OF ‘34 on the 4th, and featuring Todd with Lina Vilskid!

HELVETICA BOLD’S HOSER BURLESQUE (a variety show tribute to Canadian content) on the 5th, and featuring a solid roster of local improv and burlesque talent!

THE LARAMIE PROJECT: TEN YEARS LATER from Red.Collective.  Following up on their presentation lst year of the stunning verbatim theatre piece, this follow-up shows us the divided town of Laramie a decade after Matthew Shephard.  Plays the 11th.

BUBKUS from Jesse Buck.  A one-man clown show from a man who knows how to clown.  Last seen in Ottawa as Puck in A MIDWINTERS DREAM TALE.  Plays on the 12th, and double billed with Artbeat Theatre’s musical BARELY EVEN THERE, recently seen at the Ottawa Fringe Festival!!

NAAN BREAD by New Ottawa Repertory Theatre.  Doug Phillips’ tale of an immigrant-run convenience store in Ottawa, directed by Paul Dervis.  Plays on the 18th, double billed with FROM THE COMIC AND THE BIZARRE…TO THE ROMANTIC – ITALIAN STORIES AND FOLKTALES by Christina Kindl!

THE GODDESS from Moment-M, billed as an original 1950’s musical comedy!  On the 19th.

crazy
CRAZY by Hazel Hutton, double billed with JP Chartier’s 2020 from last year’s Fringe, on the 25th!

And July 26th CRUSH IMPROV hits the Gladstone for their ONE NIGHT STAND…and I’ll tell you what else they have going on this month as son as my computer lets me access their website again (it won’t right now, the darned thing).

All I’ve found so far for Theatre Francais is L’AMOUR A L’AGENDA from Theatre de L’Ile, which I’m sensing is a bit of a rom-com.  Starts July 3rd.  If there’s anything else going on, please, Franco-friends, let me know and I’ll pass it on!

Let me know what else is going on…I’m still a little Fringe-dazed and I know I’ve missed a tidbit or gem here and about.  Take care, and I’ll see you at the Theatre!  Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid, the Visitor (and Winston)

Fringe Preview 2013!

In Fringe Fest, Theatre on June 17, 2013 at 7:04 pm

Here it is at last, folks, the one thing that makes those terrible, terrible months of sunshine and humidity bearable (I’m a cool weather person, so sue me)…FRINGE!  It’s been 5 years now since I wandered into my first ever Ottawa Fringe Festival show and had my life turned upside down in the best way I could have ever imagined…I’m still riding that rocket and it gets faster all the time!  Fun side note…Shane Adamczak, one of the stars of that first show I saw, Weeping Spoon’s GREED, is currently tearing it up at the Montreal Fringe with his latest solo show, ZACK TO THE FUTURE!

Wish I were there!

Wish I were there!

But the Courtyard is getting prepped, flyers are being handed out, Facebook invites are being reposted fast and furious…the madness is almost upon us!  And I find myself occupying a rather new set of circumstances going in this time around, which is just making it even more exciting and cool.  There’s an amazing looking slate of shows coming with this year’s Fringe, and if you can’t find a shitload of awesome to enrich your soul HERE, then I hope whatever you sold it for was worth it.

– OLD FRIENDS

Kurt Fitzpatrick in CATHEDRAL CITY.  photo by Tracey Olsen

Kurt Fitzpatrick in CATHEDRAL CITY. photo by Tracey Olsen

Unlike my Fringe-virgin status in 2008, I know a fair amount of names going in to 2013.  And boyoboy, am I looking forward to their shows.  Like dynamo Kurt Fitzpatrick, who’s back in town with CATHEDRAL CITY (after tearing it up with the great LAST STRAIGHT MAN ON THEATRE a few years back). Or a wonderful late addition to this year’s event, the lady Cameryn Moore herself with SLUT (R)EVOLUTION.  Cameryn’s a one-woman army when it comes to flyering lineups, so expect to see plenty of her and her parasol around the Fringe grounds.  And yay, Emily Pearlman is back!  She’s got a new boy-partner this time ‘round in the form of upstanding young lad Brad Long in WE GLOW from theatre 4.669 and director Kevin Orr.

Nitro-powered storyteller Martin Dockery is back after crushing houses with last year’s WANDERLUST, this time with two shows to blow your mind with, THE PIT (with partner Vanessa Quesnelle) and THE BIKE TRIP, his tale of the accidental creation of LSD.  As a Leary fan, ya know I have to see THIS one.  And Jeff Leard, star of last years GAMETES AND GONADS is back with another solo piece THE SHOW MUST GO ON.

Victoria Grove in SAPPHO...IN 9 FRAGMENTS.  photo by Robert Piwko

Victoria Grove in SAPPHO…IN 9 FRAGMENTS. photo by Robert Piwko

A few of Ottawa’s most beloved ladies are back in Fringe!  Jessica Ruano, after conquering Europe, is in town with SAPPHO…IN 9 FRAGMENTS starring Victoria Grove in a show that’s gotten raves on two continents.  Jen Capogreco takes to the stage alone in NEVER FALL IN LOVE WITH A WRITER.   Bronwyn Steinberg brings her expanded SubDevision piece OCCUPY ME from last year to this year’s Fringe. And Nancy Kenny has taken off the skates and polished her French for DOLORES, a site-specific bit of wonder in the kitchen at St.Pauls.  Only 17 seats per show, so feel free to use that advanced ticket option, hey?

And there’s still more!  Rich Hemphill strikes back with DIE ZOMBIE DIE!, Bear and Company tries out some original material with WINDFALL JELLY, and up’n’coming comedy juggernaught GRIMprov is ready to give you laugh pain with GRIMPROV PRESENTS (special guests nightly!).  Dead Unicorn Ink returns with furniture-based theatre in CHESTERFIELD, Glassianogets grim’n’gritty with DISILLUSION, and Fireflood Theatre brings violence to center stage (yay!) with THE FIGHT.  Oh, and how could I forget that May Can Theatre is back, this time bringing HAPPINESStm to Fringe crowds!  As well as another show, but…more on that later.

– OTS REPRESENT!

Caitlin Corbett in MORNINGSTAR. photo by Johan Kwan.

Caitlin Corbett in MORNINGSTAR. photo by Johan Kwan.

It’s no secret that I’m heading into Ottawa Theatre School in the fall (although it would be perfectly understandable if nobody reading this actually gave a shit), and I’m psyched to see so many of former students making an appearance at this years Fringe.  Like Victoria Luloff and her show THE DAY WE GREW WINGS, or Caitlin Corbett with MORNING STAR.  Holly Griffith co-stars in Tim Oberholzer’s THE VANITY PROJECT (with Tim,  Tess McManus and Nicholas Amott), and Nick Fournier and Jonah Allingham will both be appearing in…but more on that later.  Did I miss any OTS’ers out there?  Shout out!!

– NEW PEOPLE!!

Hopegrown Productions, being all starlike!

Hopegrown Productions, being all starlike!

I’m not so worldly in the ways of Fringe that I don’t still get introduced to tons of new talented peeps every year (and I hope I never am), and this year’s got a big crop I’m excited to catch.  Like the gals of Hopegrown Productions with AROUND MISS JULIE, already getting good buzz at Montreal Fringe.  Or Andrew Wade with his Alice-in-Wonderland riff THE HATTER (tea included!).  Fringe goes operatic with the arrival of Toronto’s Opera Five and LA VOIX HUMAINE, and the vid for RibbitRepublic’s BE A MAN already has some serious buzz going for it:

Inside scoop is that Harrington and Kaufman are an act not to be missed, whether in their two manner CABARET TERRARIUM or Kaufman’s solo NHAR MOVES.  And RED BASTARD  and ASK AGGIE are bringing Bouffon action to the Fringe, keeping Lovebug Louie’s energy going from last year.  And you know I love -love me a one woman show, so I’m super-stoked for Emma Zabloski’s KEEPER, Colleen Osborn’s BOTCHED, and Veenesh Dubois’ UNDER THE MANGO TREE.  Also looking forward to Zeb West’s INNOCENT WHEN YOU DREAM, and Bzzt! Trap Door Theatre’s THE FRENZY OF QUEEN MAEVE.

– YOU KNEW THIS WAS COMING..!

The NICK WADE gang, snapped by Karl Claude!

The NICK WADE gang, snapped by Karl Claude!

I’ve never been one to shy away from my hugely unprofessional bias, so it should come as no surprise that I’m saving THE TRAGICALL HISTORIE OF NICK WADE (AND OTHER FUCK-UPS) for last.  Teaming May Can Theatre with Backpack Theatre, we’ve assembled the hottest gang of young theatre toughs this town has ever seen!  Cory Thibert, Tony Adams, Jonah Allingham, Nick Fournier…oh yeah, and a slightly-youngish-looking old fuck who answers to the name of ME.  Our magical director Mado Manseau has been whipping us into shape, the lads have been hitting the band practice for months, and sound designer Lewis Caunter is gonna impress like Hell with his incredible work.  A rock’n’roll comedy drama, a tragedie in five songs, you ain’t seen (or heard) nothing like NICK WADE at the Fringe for a long, long time.  And did I mention our venue, T.A.N.Coffee at 317 Wilbrod in Sandy Hill, will be licensed..?   Come on out, have  a beer, buy an advance ticket, and of course, Fuck the GVMNT:

There’s plenty more, there’s SO MUCH MORE..!  But I have miles to go before I sleep kids, so check your Fringe guides and plan your madness-fueled days of theatre carefully so as not to miss a trick.  I’m still gonna try and see and review as much as I possibly can, tho with me being IN a show I’ll be more limited than previous years.  Since I won’t be doing the whole ‘media pass’ thing this year, if you want me to review YOUR show, find me in the courtyard, slip me your password, or Hell, just ask me nice, I’ll probably show up. 🙂  I will sadly not be reassembling my amazing Team Visitorium this year, although as it turns out I just might have a partner of sorts on the blogging front after all.  Stay tuned!  Hope like Hell to see you all out at the Fringe (and in the audience for NICK WADE..!), and save me a spot in the beer tent.  Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid, the Visitor (and Winston)

The (not so fresh) Fresh Meat post!

In Uncategorized on October 10, 2012 at 2:58 pm

Okay, so it’s been a week, or maybe more, depending on when I actually get this thing done.  And I know, I saw the festival on its last day anyways, so a timely review wasn’t exactly crucial.  But I still feel silly for waiting so long, especially since let’s face it…this is the kind of thing I live for.  And I hope at least one or two of you have been waiting (perhaps even on the edge of your seat) for my take on Ottawa first-ever (and very hopefully not last) FRESH MEAT FESTIVAL!

Due to my increasingly insane work schedule, I was only able to make it out to the final day of this, Ottawa’s latest mini-festival of theatre, at the Pressed Cafe on Gladstone.  I was a little sad to be catching only the end of the three day fest, as I’d been pretty stoked when producer and good guy Jonah Allingham first told me about it, not long after this year’s Fringe wrapped up.  He had some pretty crafty kids lined up for it at that time, pitching the idea as a sort of DIY festival, at a brand new spot (licensed, of course) where some up’n’coming theatre types could host an evening of their own all-original material in short spurts (approx. 20 minutes apiece).  Not seeing a downside to this, and being a big fan of up’n’coming theatre gangsters, I was more than ready when my chance to head out to the fest finally came around.  It was last Sunday (my last day off in what looks to be a good long while) after my volunteer shift at the GCTC, making it a good theatre day all ’round.

The Pressed turned out to be a pretty squinky spot for some bare bones theatre, with tasty eats and local beers available all the while.  I nabbed a pint and a post on a comfy sofa up front, and settled in for the six-show lineup, emceed all night by local heroes GRIMprov (also one of the performing acts).

Up first was the producer himself, Jonah Allingham of Backpack Theatre with his one-manner SUMMER OF ’34.  Continuing in the tradition of his Fringe sleeper hit IN WAVES, ’34 was a slice out of Canadian history.  And, like Waves, it was unflinching, stripped-down storytelling style theatre that rather fearlessly leaves its performer and creator utterly exposed on stage.

Exposed, and just a little bit tipsy.

The story of a down and out drinker who stumbles on a dangerous opportunity to make some quick cash, Jonah switches from drunken revelry to sudden violence to a mad, sweaty intercity bike ride (complete with bike!) in furious flashes, spouting darkly lyrical dialogue all the while.  It’s a messy, gritty joy of a show that, along with his initiative in getting this festival underway in the first place, upgrades Jonah in my own estimation to ‘force to be reckoned with’ status.  He’s good, and only getting better.  A very, very good start.

Following this up were hit Fringe team Dead Unicorn Ink and their latest, CAUTION: DO NOT FEED THE MERMAIDS by Sylvie Recoskie.  Toning down their penchant for full-blown puppet-powered production values(seen in pat shows PLAYING DEAD and SPACE MYSTERY…FROM OUTERSPACE!), but still adding a pretty slick gloss to thee show with a few nifty props’n’costumes, the show follows a shy high-schooler (Patrice Ann-Forbes, impressive and loveable in the lead) born with tentacles for arms and getting a predictably rough time of it for her troubles.

She meets up with a vain and vicious mermaid (a fire-haired Sylvie Recoskie, making a pretty fetching sea creature indeed…yow!), as well as striking up an unlikely romance with a thick fellow student (Mike Doiron, getting good laffs out of his dimwitted character).  It’s a darkly funny bit of fantasy fluff, putting a nice classic mermaid twist on the trials of teenage living.  But I gotta give this one to Patrice, who really shines throughout.  Very nice stuff.

Show #3 for the evening were local fav’rits May Can Theatre and another brand new piece, DUSK AND DAWN by Tony Adams.  Starring fellow co-founder Cory Thibert, and the amazing Madeleine Boyes-Manseau as a deer and an owl, respectively, who form an unlikely pairing in the forest.  Aided by musical accompaniment from splendidly unitarded director Adams, the show continues May Can’s streak of fun, thoughtful shows…a lot of heart, a heaping helping of nature, and a dash of heartbreak.

Not to mention the performances…Mado Manseau is always a joy to watch on stage (didja see OPEN COUPLE?  Fucking stellar.) and this show is no different.  And Cory Thibert makes a shockingly sweet baby deer!  Who knew?  I’m forgetting right now the name of the gal who played the puppet-gopher (don’t have my program with me, sorry!) but she was mighty fine too.  The staging was just as moody and cool as it needed to be…I’d like to see this one fleshed out a bit.  Three for three!

The second half of the show began with the debut of Jake William Smith’s Rapscallion Diversion (excellent company name) and THE HENCHMAN’S SURVIVAL GUIDE (another good name…that’s good naming, Smith).  From the vantage point of a veteran flunky in a supervillainous army, Jake’s put-upon trooper guides his new recruits (in this case we, the audience) with handy tricks to making it through day to day existence when working for a criminal mastermind.

Remember, kids: NEVER get tricked into leaving your post!

It’s a funny, high energy show from the talented JWS, and it’s good to see him stretching with a little solo work (May Can’s Cory Thibert directed the show).  Hero/villain/flunky dynamics have plenty of material to mine, and while one or two moments in the show strayed too close to AUSTIN POWERS territory, there’s plenty enough manic fun to carry us through.  This is another show that could definitely be worked into a longer piece (actually, that applies to most all of Fresh Meat, a good sign).  Also, cool uniform.

Without a beat, we segued into the penultimate show of the evening, from the night’s hosts GRIMPROV (aka Mike Kosowan, Joel Garrow and Drew McFadyen).  I’d arrived on a very special night indeed, featuring the troupe’s legendary technique of Puppet-Prov.  And if you like improv, well, you ain’t seen nothin’ til you’ve seen it done with puppets.  And if you DO see GRIMprov’s puppet improv, and you’re sitting in the front row..?  Bring an umbrella.

I won’t tell who, but one of them spits something fierce.

The lads put on a splendid bit of ‘prov, with their trusty puppet assistants and musical accompaniment from the ever excellent DJ Helicase.  Plug time: GRIMprov have a regular gig at the Imperial Tavern on Bank Street, first and last wednesday of every month.  So if you missed Fresh Meat, you can at least catch THIS act again anytime you want.

And what to cap off this magical evening of theatrical whimsy?  Why, the uber-whimsical Tess McManus and her Little Green Hat, with her one-woman show TALES SHE TELLS (following up her successful Fringe run of the delightful DONKEY DERBY).  Now, lacking as I am an advanced theatre degree, I’m unable to properly review the finer artistic aspects of Tess’ show (sorry, little one, I could not resist), but from my own non-edjicated perspective, it was a beautiful show from start to finish.  The start being a classic Irish song(Tess has a positively gorgeous voice, folks) leading into a quick recap of a variety of love legends from the emerald isle, always told with a bright theatrical flourish and always engaging.  I think young McManus is on to something with her shows on Irish lore and legend, and I hope like heck she continues on in this vein.  And shame on ya if you missed her latest!

Spoiler alert: she never actually WEARS a little green hat in the show. I know, I was disappointed too.

And that was a wrap on the inaugural FRESH MEAT DIY Theatre Showcase.  It was a great night, with vibrant, exciting performers and a wide range of styles at a fun, quirky venue.  I can’t say I hope this becomes an annual event, though, only because I hope it happens way more frequently than that.  I’d be willing to bet there’s more than enough young talent in town chomping at the bit for the challenge of a micro-fest such as this (Glassiano, I’m looking at you).  Can we schedule the next one for, say, February?  Maybe a nice post-UNDERCURRENTS timeslot.  Just a thought.  Jonah?

…Well, maybe I’ll let them all catch their breath first.  But I promise, if they DO put another one of these festivals on in less than a year, I’ll actually have my review up DURING the run, not 10 days after.  How’s that for a deal?  Peace, love and soul, Ottawa,

The Visitor (and Winston)

FRINGE-COMA 2012 – Day ONE

In Fringe Fest, Theatre on June 15, 2012 at 12:39 pm

— DON’T MAKE ME ZEALOUS –IN WAVES — FNL: FRINGE NIGHT LIVE — DONKEY DERBY — THE OPEN COUPLE —

Day One of Fringe 2012 has finally, FINALLY arrived…it started off with an opening party the previous night, which I merrily went to, and just sobered up from about 20 minutes ago.  It then continued with a bit of terrible news I received, personal-style, which will sadly impact part of my planned coverage for the fest.  But it’s the kind of bad news that supercedes even things Fringe, and if you know me, you know that’s saying a lot.  So, bad news.  Sigh.

But, FRINGE!  I headed out today right after work, and bought my first ticket of the year over at Arts Court, and BOY but it felt good.  And tho it was a little weird seeing the iron fence around the Court so bereft of Fringe-posters (some silly new rule this year, which I do not care for one bit, no sir), picking up that first ticket made up for it all.  I ended up seeing a solid 5 shows on day one, and even managed some down time in between a few of them, and a few drinks afterwards.  I saw lots of familiar faces, met the visiting Celeste Sansregret, who if you don’t know is bloody goddamn wonderful, hugged some pretty girls, and happily saw several members of TEAM VISITORIUM out and about, strutting their stuff and doing their bit.  It was inspiring stuff, kids, and I suppose I had just as well get to it.   Fabulous Fringe shows aren’t gonna write themSELVES up, which is the only reason anyone’s here!  And those first five shows..?

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–  DON’T MAKE ME ZEALOUS by Matt Minter.  From Fringe veterans ERUDITE THEATE (they were last in the fest with 2010’s ‘DENTITY CRISIS, and recently teamed with Sock’n’Buskin for a wicked cool version of MACBETH at Carleton U.)), ZEALOUS tells a weirdly dark, but pretty damn funny tale of a clash of religious beliefs.  Intellectual agnostic Tom (Brennan Richardson) is more than a little uneasy about his planned church wedding with Catholic girlfriend Jackie (Emily Bradley).  A few angry speeches and soulful confessions lead to Tom having a religious epiphany in the street…but maybe not the one his fiance could have hoped for.

The best part of having a religious vision is you get to drink mead RIGHT out of the horn.

Richardson and Bradley are both very strong as Tom and Jackie, and third cast member David Rowan does good triple duty as a friendly priest, wedding planner, and Mark the…but no, I won’t give away his full title here.  ZEALOUS is Edudite’s first go at an original play, and has a lot going for it.  It takes a marvelously skewed look at belief and faith, flirting with being too heavy-handed at times but always staying on the fun side of satire.  And it probably features the best Zeppelin cover you’re going to see at Fringe this year.  I do wish we’d gotten some scenes featuring the young couple at the heart of it all actually, you know, getting along…they mostly just argue the entire time, and I thought Emily Bradley could have been involved in the plot more.  But a good show, and Matt Minter’s direction was spot-on.   A good time.

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–  IN WAVES by Jonah Allingham.  I actually was going to see this show a little later on in the fest, but I missed my planned connection, and ya gotta be flexible in this game of Fringe, folks.  So a quick dart to the basement of the Laurier Oak later, and I was snug and ready for a little one-man theatre.  I’d already chatted with good guy Jonah about this piece, and was stoked to actually see it (I wasn’t the only one, as he packed the little space downstairs on opening night).  With zero set and some jury-rigged lighting and sound (courtesy of BACKPACK THEATRE friends Jack Terrion and Louis Caunter), Jonah’s sweet (and occasionally naughty) show told the tale of a lonely sailor, conscripted into Henry Hudson’s 1610 expedition to find the Northwest passage.  Amidst the brutal labour and harsh conditions, our hero dreams of his wife back in Canada…and has strange visions of another woman, somewhere in the water…

IN WAVES is a beautiful little theatrical gem, clearly a labour of love for Allingham.  The language is classic and poetical and, more often than not, raw.  There are some almost uncomfortably frank moments in the script, capturing the numbing solitude of a harsh life at sea.  And our hero’s visions of beauty in the deep blue sea are just understated enough to lend the show a magical quality.  When things take a dark turn, Jonah is more than up to the task and makes his character’s trials all too believable.  The show is short at around half an hour, but it’ll stay with you for much longer than that. Shoutout also to director Cat Leger, who helped Jonah bring this piece to fruition.  Great job all around!

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–  FNL: FRINGE NIGHT LIVE from Fish Schtick Productions.  Set up at Cafe Alt (yay, couches!), I was very much looking forward to FNL…I’d seen some of this gang previously at Sock’n’Buskin’s One-Act Comedy Festival a while back, and had a freakin’ great time.  And I loved the idea of the show, which I’ll let the lads explain to you:

The cast stars Jon and Jaime Champagne, David Rowan (yes, the same guy I just saw in DON’ MAKE ME ZEALOUS…so many people are doing double-duty in the Fringe it’s ridiculous. And AWESOME.), Adam Smith and Hisham Kelati, in a rapid-fire series of comedy sketches, interspersed with some digital shorts played on  a vacant wall.    Inspired by SNL, Kids in the Hall and the like, the FNL boys are fairly fearless with their comedy choices, and are pretty goddam fucking funny guys to boot.  Like any sketch show, some bits hit better than others…but that’s also the beauty of it.  If there’s a clunker, nevermind…a new one will be along in just a few minutes!  The boys have some pretty hilarious takes on cats and wedding singers, I can tell you that, and the Yoga sketch should have EVERYONE cracking up.   If there’s a show this year to catch after you’ve had a few drinks at the courtyard, well Hell, this is it.

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–  DONKEY DERBY by Tess Mc Manus (Little Green Hat/Black Sheep Theatre).  Hey, someone ELSE I chatted with, huzzah!  Now, I’ve dug the onstage styling of wee lady Mc Manus since I first saw her in Youth Infringement a couple years back, and was super-stoked to see her new, and first ever, one-woman show (aka my fav’rit kind of entertainment).  Set in Letterkenny, Ireland, the show listens in as our reluctant heroine Mary, hiding in a barn, relates her woes after she’s been drafted into a mad local tourney known as a ‘donkey derby’…participant are forced to try and race donkeys, contrary animals to say the least, for the amusement of everyone but themselves.  If you’re lucky, you win a turnip.  If you’re UNlucky you get hurled into shite.

Are you starting to get the ‘reluctant’ part yet?

Mc Manus’ Mary is an instantly endearing character, slowly spilling the truth of her lifetime of living out of the spotlight and away from possible harm, even as the tries to talk herself either into or out of participating in the quite insane derby.    When it all ties into the ongoing strife in her beloved Ireland, it makes perfect sense.  With directorial assistance from Dave Dawson of Black Sheep Theatre, DONKEY DERBY is a rapid-fire, highly entertaining tale about a young girl trying hard to come out of her shell.   Tess’ performance is wonderful, and I think will only get better as the show goes on (she only finished building the set, like, yesterday).  DERBY is completely charming and so foolishly likeable I already wanna go back.  And if you know me, I just might.

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–  THE OPEN COUPLE by Dario Fo.  My last show of the night was courtesy of Theatre Sasa, and director Jodi Sprung-Boyd (I talked to her too!  I never realized I was so chatty!), and this remount of a show she put on a year or so ago in Studio Leonard-Beaulne.  I missed it then, so I was thrilled to hear it was returning in the Fringe.  A play with a curious origin indeed (Fo wrote it as an apology to his wife for his many infidelities, and never intended it to be mounted as a play), the show stars Sean Sonier and Mado Boyes-Manseau as the couple in question.    After his wife threatens suicide more than once as a response to his unfaithful ways, the man in question  proposes she dimply do the same…ie, they become an open couple.  Which works in theory, but…

Yeah, sometimes these things don’t go as smoothly as they sounded in your head.

Jodi’s direction (which I’ve enjoyed in past productions EURYDICE and MAMAMOUCHI) shines here, and THE OPEN COUPLE is constantly engaging, exciting and fun.  Sean Sonier, subbing in for Ken Godmere who played the part in the original, is perfectly smug as the self-satisfied Man, so sure of his charm that he can hardly believe it when things start to crumble.  But it’s Mado Boyes-Manseau who shines the brightest as the Woman, giving probably one of the best performances you’ll see at this year’s Fringe.  I’m starting to get that she’s one of the best actors we’ve got in this town, and let’s all hope more people figure it out too.   This show is more than worth the epic upstairs trek to Studio 311…a big thanks to the Sasa gang for bringing this show back.  I owe ya one.

Right, that’s it for me for day one…I’ll be back tomorrow with five MORE reviews (and stay tuned for some more coverage, as the writeups start coming in from my Angels on TEAM VISITORIUM!), and I’ll have’em up quicker next time, I promise .  I’ll have to, I’m seeing shows starting at 12:30 tomorrow!  Yikes!  Stay  frosty, Fringers…peace, love and soul,

The Visitor (and Winston)