Posts Tagged ‘book of why’


In Fringe Fest, Theatre on June 26, 2014 at 5:18 pm

One last show for me on this Wednesday at Ottawa Fringe…making it a slow, slackerly three-show night, because even I need a break sometimes. Or, okay, I just need even more time at the beer tent, but that’s sort of a break. Of course, somehow today is the day I’m running dangerously late in getting my writeups done, because I roll like that. Ironically. I roll ironically.

Irony or no, I still had one more show to dig into that night, ROYAL JELLY from Book of Why, at good old Arts Court theatre. Written by Kara Crabb (whose THE STILLBIRTH appeared at club Saw few months back as part of Red.Collective’s OFF THE CUFF series), the show stars Crabb herself, Noa Nussbaum and Norah Paton as a trio of harem widows in a post-apocalyptic bunker, squabbling over the usual things…who gets the bigger share of their late husband’s heart for dinner, who gets to marry little Jacob jr. when he grows up, which one of them will be eaten next…you know, the usual.

Promo image for ROYAL JELLY (pic by Kara Lis Coverdale)

Promo image for ROYAL JELLY (pic by Kara Lis Coverdale)

Looking and sounding at first appearance like a scene out of an old Tom Baker episode of Doctor Who (that is SUCH a compliment from me, you guys, trust me), and featuring live onstage musical accompaniment from Kara-Lis Coverdale, this is a show that’s delightfully weird to describe. A life or death sci-fi premise is played out in full-on camp mode by three very talented actors…Crabb as the imperious head wife Gal-Pal chews scenery and slinks about like nobody’s business. Nussbaum is a hoot as wide-eyed Pap-X, earnest and devoted to a fault. And Paton as pragmatic Suffagir, ever scheming, arguing, and occasionally seducing, is likewise great to watch in action. This is a slickly made show with great costumes, set and sound that makes a point of making fun of itself, and that makes for a damn fun viewing. Congrats to Book of Why on a memorable debut…and yeah, that baby was kinda creepy. Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid

Side note: the show does run a bit shorter than its stated 60 minute run time, so you might be able to schedule an earlier after-show in if you plan wisely!

2014 Ottawa Fringe – 5 Questions with NORAH PATON

In Fringe Fest, Theatre on June 23, 2014 at 6:37 pm

I first met Norah Paton when she and the fine folk of Hopegrown Productions shared a venue with me at TAN Coffee with their terrific show AROUND MISS JULIE, which Norah directed.  Since then she’s been keeping busy with things like FORSAKEN DAUGHTERS OF WINTER, her one-woman performance from the Fresh Meat Festival, and stage managing Hopegrown’s latest LOTUS at the Montreal Fringe.  She’s back in the Ottawa Fringe this year acting in a cool new show, ROYAL JELLY.


– How long have you been working with your show co-creators Noa Nussbaum and Kara Crabb?
I met both Kara and Noa at different times while in school at Concordia. Kara and I had always talked about collaborating on something, but that didn’t happen until FORSAKEN DAUGHTERS OF WINTER for the Fresh Meat Festival. We really enjoyed working together and found our styles meshed well. We were unlucky with the Fringe draw, but Noa was actually the first company pulled, so we decided to all work together.
– How important is the creation of original work to you?
Really important! From a broad perspective, it’s important because it means that theatre doesn’t stagnate and die. From a purely financial perspective, it means you don’t have to pay for rights. The Fringe Festival is also the perfect platform for new works to be created. The bare-bones technical possibilities, shorter time slots and lower ticket prices make it the perfect place to premiere new works and try something out.
– ROYAL JELLY looks to be one of the darker pieces at Ottawa Fringe this year, which is terrific. Is that a nice break from lighter recent fare like Julie, or FORSAKEN DAUGHTERS OF WINTER?
People keep telling us it sounds dark. I didn’t expect that.

It’s a heart breaking story, absolutely, but I hope people can also see the humour. Fringe can be a tough place to market a more serious show, so we’re hoping people don’t get too put off by the dark subject matter.

Promo image for ROYAL JELLY (pic by Kara Lis Coverdale)

Promo image for ROYAL JELLY (pic by Kara Lis Coverdale)

– Are you bringing back any Fringe wisdom after tackling the beast that is Edinburgh last year (or Fringe cynicism)?
Yes to both, I would say. Edinburgh was (as anyone will tell you) completely insane and overwhelming and exhausting.
The biggest lesson I learned over there was about working smart, not just hard. With every Fringe, but even more so with Edinburgh, there is always more to do. More promotion, more flyer-ing, more shows to see, more networking to do, more posters to put up and more promo performances you can do. But with a three week run like we had, you can’t be constantly doing everything. And while flyer-ing may seem like good promotional time, when you’re the 50th person handing someone a flyer in 5 minutes, that’s probably not the most efficient way to promote your show. And it’s tiring! It’s a delicate balance to strike, but if you don’t take care of yourself, no one will.
Sidebar: really excited to see that the Ottawa Fringe has introduced a half price hut this year! I loved this in Edinburgh and am really hoping for it’s success here as well!
– What are the themes and issues explored in this play that you think (or hope) will resonate with Fringe audiences? Or that resonate with YOU?
We’ve been talking a lot about motherhood and fertility. Drawing inspiration from Medea, there’s a lot about women and power and politics and how they all fit together. But there’s also this sci-fi element and the world of the play is definitely not realistic. A lot of the pieces I have been working on recently have dealt with themes relating to women or gender, so it’s fun to look at these things through an absurd lens.

ROYAL JELLY plays at the Ottawa Fringe festival (June 19th to 29th)at Arts Court Theatre.  Full showtime and ticket information available HERE.