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Posts Tagged ‘ottawa fringe festival’

Ottawa Fringe 2016 – Epilogue

In Fringe Fest, Uncategorized on June 29, 2016 at 11:34 am

This…was a hard Fringe.

Picking up the pieces now in those oddly quiet days after, and finally getting some reliably decent sleeps again, it’s odd to look back on this one, my ninth Ottawa Fringe Festival, and the third in which I performed. I think I saw fewer shows than ever before…a paltry 27, tho of course they were all fantastic. In fact, before I get to my own post-show report, let’s deal with those amazing shows I was lucky enough to lay eyes and feels on:

the Exclusion Zone

Gary

Love is a Battlefield

Everybody Dies in December

Dissidents

How to be a Gentleman

Laser Kiwi

Rideshares and Rope Swings

Magic Unicorn Island

2 For Tea

Cardinal

Angels and Aliens

A Tension to Detail

Alpha Delta 86

In Waking Life

Best Picture

GET LOST Jem Rolls

Saor (Free)
C-

ArborAmor

V.R.Dunne

#staystrong

Grade 8

Drinksitter

Lovely Lady Lump

Blindside

Okay, so that’s a pretty swell list, yeah? And I’m sorry I missed some great hometown heroes like Fireflood and Dead Unicorn Ink, but here’s hoping they consider a double-bill remount (you know you want to!). Also missed the local Improv gangs at Fringe…will try and make up for that with a few visits to their regularly scheduled shows coming soon. Some shows I missed because they conflicted with my own, or out of sheer exhaustion. Of the ones I did catch, I loved a lot. Jem Rolls was as good as I’ve ever seen him in GET LOST, the Two Kind Boys made a wonderful Fringe debut with the terrific RIDESHARES AND ROPE SWINGS, Martin Dockery impressed as ever in THE EXCLUSION ZONE, Nancy Kenny gave what I think is her most beautiful performance ever in EVERYBODY DIES IN DECEMBER. In the end though, I had two top picks that immediately made me want to come back in the theatre and see them again

Magic Unicorn Island WEB

MAGIC UNICORN ISLAND from Jayson McDonald. The dude what inspired me to become a solo performer continues to inspire with maybe his best show yet (and that’s saying something). Hilarious, imaginative, poignant and devastating.

-Cardinal 1 (cred Aplombusrhombus)

…And CARDINAL from Aplombusrhombus. I had the privilege of performing with Madeleine Hall in last year’s Fringe, and after Cardinal it’s pretty obvious who had the talent in THAT team-up. Joining forces with Mitchel Rose, they created a wordless, colourful and vibrant visual landscape as two opposing clowns act out the disintegration of a man’s mind to alzheimers. Utterly unforgettable.

Plenty more shout-outs deserved…The Synsk sisters charmed mightily in IN WAKING LIFE, Gerard Harris hit storytelling highs in A TENSION TO DETAIL, James and Jamesy continue to be brilliant in 2 FOR TEA…I really could go on and on and ON, but I think I’m just stalling now.

bisbee poster

This year I hit the Fringe in my first ever solo show, a comedy/drama called NORMAN BISBEE GOES TO WAR, the story of an elderly WWII vet who is robbed of a precious locket and sets out to nab the punk who took it. Along thee way he meets a young runaway, is haunted by visions of his old squadmate Peppini, yadda yadda yadda. A little late for the elevator pitch now, I know. This show was a definite labour of love, and I can’t thank my stage manager Erin McDonald enough (fighting illness the entire Fringe, but still made every show and nary a tech bobble to be found. If anyone deserves an award this time out, it’s her). Likewise her partner Pierre, who jumped in by her side and was ready to take over if need arose, plus stalwart venue tech Fraser, sound guru Leslie Cserepy, and superstar  Jodi Morden who helped out so much in the creation of the show. And of course my OWN Partner Caitlin, who helped keep me sane and standing throughout. All the love forever, gang.

I don’t know what I was expecting from my first solo outing…I mean, I know what i was HOPING for, or dreaming about…best of fest! Sellout crowds! Rave reviews! Outstanding solo performer! Cries for a remount! On to Winnipeg..!!!! Ha. 🙂

The reality was much more, well, real than all that. Small to middling houses (I will NOT make my money back, tho I won’t take such a hit that I have to sell organs or anything), a couple of relatively pleasant reviews, no word of mouth to speak of, no awards or accolades…none of which sounds particularly strange when I put it on paper. But at the time…well, let’s just say that playing to 8 people at 11pm on closing weekend was not a personal high for me (but I gave those 8 good folk a terrific show, dagnabbit!). I got disappointed, I felt distant from my beloved Fringe family…gone from being that reviewer guy everyone knew and liked to just some untested solo performer whose show wasn’t doing very well and who didn’t know how to open his mouth without whining about that fact. I found myself feeling very un-Fringey pangs of envy towards friends and colleagues whose shows WERE packing houses and WERE getting rave reviews and great word of mouth while I stagnated…believe me, I ain’t proud of those pangs. Add to that working overtime hours at my day job all the while I was opening a physical theatre piece, and my visits to Chapel Perilous were becoming more and more frequent. And I know, I know that others at Fringe had even less material success than me, and those people have my eternal sympathy. Fringe can be a brutally tough racket, and this one has been a big learning experience for me.

But…but that isn’t what I wanted! A LEARNING experience?? My first solo show? Are you kidding me? This was supposed to be my breakthrough, guys! Didn’t anyone read the script in my head? AM I THE ONLY ONE WHO DID THE READING???

diary

“…and then I won a Dora Award.” It’s right there in my diary, you guys!!

Sigh. But in the end, and after some sober (and sometimes drunken) self-reflection, I know exactly why my show never sold out, and why the reviews were just okay, and why nobody talked about it on twitter and all that jazz. And that’s because…it just wasn’t good enough. It wasn’t TERRIBLE, don’t get me wrong, I’m proud of what I put up there on that stage. It IS a good show. But not only is there room for improvement, there’s need. If this show is to ever see the light of day again…and trust me, after this Fringe my dreams of touring it have taken a serious body blow…it needs some work. And I’ve already taken a few moments to sit down and think about where those tweaks and twists might come. And I’ll be talking with others about exactly that in the months to come. Fringe may be only 11 days a year, but it also never ends. That’s my new reality. And that reality…well, that’s a rather welcome one.

NormanBisbee3 pic byCaitlin Oleson

Take a break, Norman…you did good.

In fact, I have to delay workshopping on Norman Bisbee because now that Ottawa Fringe is over for 2016, it’s time to get back into the rehearsal hall with Madeleine Hall (the talented one, remember?) and Jodi Morden (the belle with the bell) as we start prepping FASTER THAN THE SPEED OF DATING to hit Vancouver Fringe in September. See? Fringe never ends, gang. Fringe is a beginning that never ends.  Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid

The Road to War

In Fringe Fest, Uncategorized on May 20, 2016 at 12:55 am

I’m up later than I’d planned.

I mean, not that I had a CRAZY busy day or anything (I’m no Kiefer Sutherland), but I did get some sun, which if you’re familiar with my pallour you’ll know could be a source of concern for me. There was much walking in direct sunlight, some eating, some meetings, what might be considered a late-in-life viewing of Mel Brooks’ BLAZING SADDLES, and then bedtime.  I was in bed, and ready for sleepies.

But for Fringe.

The 2016 Ottawa fringe website went live and all whirlagog with activity today, announcing the impressive 20th anniversary lineup of the festival that changed the course of my life back in 2008.  A lot of my time today was spent pretending I did NOT have laundry that needed doing, and instead poring meticulously over the shows in said list.  I can already safely say that I’m almost recklessly giddy that my theatrical hero and inspiration, Jayson McDonald, is finally coming back to Ottawa Fringe, and that LASER KIWI is a show I will absolutely be seeing, based solely on the wonderfully absurd strength of its name.

laser kiwi

LASER KIWI, people..!

But I was sleepy, and so took to bed.  But sleep was not in the cards.  I had too many thoughts in my head, about my beloved Fringe.  Not of the entirely Fanboyish variety for which I first became known in Ottawa, but because MY show, the still-upcoming Norman Bisbee Goes to War, was one of the shows in that ‘impressive lineup’ I’d mentioned.  And while I’m happy to say the thoughts that kept me awake were NOT unhappy ones…no undue stress about deadlines or production details or unfinished scripts (there may have been a fantasy or two about winning best of fest lodged in my musings somewhere)… I knew that I clearly was not done with Fringe for the day.

So up I got, poured a late shot of Jamesons, and tossed my dvd of Martin Dockery’s brilliant storytelling show WANDERLUST on for inspiration.  It worked.  And remind me to buy all the rest of his discs come June, and then remind yourselves to do that too.

dockery

This is Martin Dockery. See all his shows and buy all his stuff. You’re welcome.

When it was done, I moved to my computer, because as the show played, I realized that I owed a long overdue post, on this terribly rusty blog, ABOUT that show of mine. One that’s been kicking around in my head for about 2 years now, coming to me almost fully formed after a couple of moments in front of a mirror in the changeroom at work pretending to be an elderly man, for no good reason.  NORMAN BISBEE GOES TO WAR is a show about an unexpected adventure undertaken by an unlikely protagonist, 84 year old Norman.  Venturing out into the bad part of town to track down his most prized possession, stolen by a Rat-Faced punk, Norman befriends a young runaway named Sally, and is aided/haunted by visions of his old war buddy Peppini.

NormanBisbee1 Pic by Caitlin Oleson

Scary promo photo of me by Unicorn Princess Caitlin Oleson.

That’s the elevator pitch, such as it is.  Marketing ain’t my strong suit.

The reality of the production aspect, however is…good?  I’ll say good.  I was terrified for a long time that I was taking on too much with this one, a show I’d told myself as soon as I thought of it that I wasn’t good enough to do yet.  I’d probably still be saying that, if some clever people hadn’t  made me realize that I would likely be content to KEEP saying that until I was dead.  And you don’t make art when you’re content (dibs on the tee-shirt right for that one).

Still…I was writing and performing this show, and kinda/sorta directing it too.  Which is a TERRIBLE idea, you don’t have to tell me.  But I have people keeping me honest in this, I swear! An early workshop of the show with Jodi Essery led to me abandoning the original silent version of the show in favour of a full-fledged script, with words and everything.  My go-to Jodi, Jodi Morden, has been sitting in when she can, helping me with blocking and timing and everything in between. I landed a gold medal Stage Manager in the form of the mighty Erin McDonald, who does nothing but impress.  Good guy Leslie Cserepy is going to town on sound, Stirling Prentice of Winged Beast Outfitters is working up a sweet poster design. The script is done.  I like it.  I’m off book.  I’m…we’re…in good shape?  We open in less than a month at the ODD Box.  And as I sit here, almost in the dark, writing this post and listening to my collection of Fringe songs from my computer (a bit of LITTLE ORANGE MAN is teasing my ears as I write these words), I can remember that June back in2008, standing alone in a corner of the now-gone Beer Tent, basking in the glow of my first ever Fringe and gawking at the people and performers who had redefined acting and entertaining for me in just 11 short days and quietly, desperately thinking to myself I WANT TO BELONG TO THIS SO BADLY.

Now, before you say anything, let me just say that it’s kind of hard for me to feel like I belong to anything.  It’s just my brain. But, I’m a little bit closer now.  This June I’ll be even a littler bit closer-er. Me and Norman.  And hopefully a few of you reading this will be joining us along the way.

And hey, if you wanna buy an advance ticket, go for it right HERE. See you at the Theatre, gang. Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid (and…oh. Yeah.  That’s ANOTHER overdue post.)

 

Hannah & George at the Ottawa Fringe Festival

In Uncategorized on May 15, 2015 at 2:06 pm

HG eventban1

Monday Foofarah! – Monday, April 20th 2015

In Foofarah on April 20, 2015 at 8:06 pm

Happy 4/20 everyone! Go drink 4 coffees and eat 20 donuts (that’s the deal with today, right?)

It should be.

It should be.

APED: So the crazy run of an even crazier play has ended at last, as Chamber Theatre Hintonburg‘s production of Eugene O’Neill’s classic THE HAIRY APE, a play I am now very, very much in love with and plan to revisit someday, has wrapped at the Carleton Tavern this past Saturday. We had some good houses, a few small ones, a few packed ones, and gave our all every time. I can’t thank Lisa and Donnie enough for letting me tag along and take this incredible plunge into ensemble, expressionist acting…it’s already hard to imagine just playing to an audience in a classic, proscenium stage. Working the room at the Carleton is such a brilliant, unique experience in theatre, and such a huge part of why I adore Chamber Theatre as a company. Nobody else is taking the chances they’re taking, and it’s gonna be hard not to jump at another opportunity if it comes along. We shall see, as the reading for their next proposed production is coming up in a week and I will happily be at the table for it.

It's got its work cut out for it if it wants to be as fun as this, though.

It’s got its work cut out for it if it wants to be as fun as this, though.

As for the Ape, it will be hard to let it, and my beloved ensemble (Madeleine, Rebecca, Darren, Brent, Laura, Jed, Donnie, Matt, Louis, and Auntie Ellen, plus our crew Lisa, Alain, Glen, Donna, Kristen, Carole and Lesley) go…post-show blues are always hard, something even a raw rookie like me is starting to understand. So to Hell with it, let’s take one last shot at it! Yes, it is officially official…THE HAIRY APE will be unleashed a month today in the Glebe at the legendary Irene’s Pub for a special one night performance, the first ever theatrical production at that venue (we already popped the Blacksheep Inn’s cherry at the start of our run, seems fitting to end it in similar fashion). Looks like I have one more filth shower in my future, and I couldn’t be happier. Well okay, I could, if all of you who sadly missed our Carleton run would do yourselves a favour and come on down to check out one of the funnest and most exciting pieces of theatre this year!

#2FARAH: So in a scant two months, my newest co-creation with my brilliant collaborators (Madeleine Hall, Jodi Morden, and Rebecca Laviolette) at STRANGE VISITATIONS will hit the boards of Studio Leonard-Beaulne for its world premiere at the Ottawa Fringe Festival. This hourlong show, HANNAH & GEORGE, will (hopefully) be a fast-paced, high energy clown love-story and magical adventure-comedy, a childrens show aimed at entertaining kids of ALL ages and winning over even the hardest of hearts. How to celebrate its arrival? The only way you celebrate anything…with Foofarah, of course!

svlogo

Yes, it’s that time of year again, as I can now officially announce the upcoming second annual FOOFARAH LIVE! At the Clocktower Brewpub on Bank Street this Monday June the 1st. Consider this my first feeling out to ask for anyone interested in contributing to the evenings entertainment…as per last year, the show will consist of a cabaret-style collection of pieces, anywhere from a minute in length to over 20. Details to follow, but if you’d be interested at all in taking part, send me an e-mail at visitor.tba@gmail.com and let me know! I should stress, this event WILL be, in part, a fundraiser for myself and Strange Visitations on our road to Fringe, so any contributions on your part will be very gratefully voluntary…but if you have an upcoming show as well and would like to give audiences an early taste of it, this is a good (and fun) place to do it! Or if you just have a short bit of fun that doesn’t fit anywhere else, give me a shout! Last year was a blast, and details will follow shortly as to the specifics on this year’s madness. I can tell you that I’ll be bringing out at least one or two of the clown ‘turns’ I worked during my stay at the Manitoulin Conservatory for Creation and Performance (aka the Clown Farm) last summer. I can ALSO tell you that this evening will feature a one-night-only revival of Strange Visitations’ Fresh Meat hit, FASTER THAN THE SPEED OF DATING (among other goodies).

Admit it, you NEED to see this live.

Admit it, you NEED to see this live.

So get in touch with me asap (and some of you I might be getting in touch with to gauge interest) and get in on the Foofarah Funtimes, and let’s kick Fringe month 2015 off with a bang…or at least, the annoying screech of a rubber chicken.

FRIENDS AT FRINGE: Speaking of Fringe (which you cannot do enough), why not shine a wee Visitorium spotlight on one of the many awesome shows I’ll be lucky enough to share the fest with this year?

crushed

My darlin’ little galpal Caitlin is diving headlong into the Fringe this year (with the help of the incredible Hannah Gibson-Fraser behind the scenes) in her one-woman show, CRUSHED, and you can help make it happen for her by checking out her Fund-What-you-Can promotion right here. Then check out her squinky new show website, and get ready for what I expect to be a very smart, sweet and funny show…and Caitlin, consider yourself invited to join us at the Foofarah if you’re into it! 🙂  I can’t wait to see what you guys are cooking up!

And that’s it for this Monday…see you again soon, gang!  Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid (and Winston)

Ottawa FRINGE-COMA 2014 – STRIPS

In Fringe Fest, Theatre on June 27, 2014 at 5:35 pm

One final show for me on a sweetly chilly Thursday night, and maybe my last review of the 2014 Ottawa Fringe festival. I’m still seeing shows, don’t get me wrong, but I’d kind of like to relax and enjoy the final weekend as just another audience member, so I’ll be putting my blogger hat on the rack for the duration. Well, okay, unless inspiration strikes, but that just goes without saying, doesn’t it?

But that’s for later, In the meantime up, up and away to Academic Hall for Slattery Theatre’s STRIPS, a comic book adventure first experimented with back at the now legendary Stage Manager Battle at the Gladstone Theatre. Written by Mark MacDonald, the show features a good sized cast of up’n’coming young Ottawa actors having a bit of superpowered fun onstage. Set in a typical comic metropolis (I want to say New City, is that right? It was very late…), our story follows big shot hero Jack the Jump (Kyle Cunningham) as he tries to make time with fetching librarian Jane (Katie Volkert), not to mention stopping the machinations of evil Doctor Doe (Will LaFrance). Lately, the doc has hooked up with a wicked shapeshifter (Hilary Peck) and launched a new take-over-the-world plot…he might get the jump on Jack, if not for the appearance of a mysterious lady psychic (Chrissie Baxter) who just might help Jack save the day, if she can only get through his thick skull in time.

strips

I’ll be up front with you, gang…this isn’t the best show around, it’s not the greatest theatre…but it DOES have the most superheroes in it, and that’s saying something in my books. A clever framing sequence, funky dyi set and colourful costumes are aided by enthusiastic and properly scenery chewing performances. LaFrance digs gleefully into the cackling Dr Doe, there are a few very cleverly staged super-speed fight scenes, improper telepathic sexual innuendoes are broadcast…it’s a silly fun time with some good folks in tight pants, and that was all I really needed at 11pm on a Thursday. Thanks for the fun, Slattery, and here’s to the next big stage comic book adventure. Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid

Ottawa FRINGE-COMA 2014 – DERANGED DATING

In Fringe Fest, Theatre on June 27, 2014 at 8:25 am

The next time I feel sorry for myself for how far I have to travel (a whopping 40 minutes by bus) to get home from the Ottawa Fringe Festival, I’ll just remind myself of artists like Shirley Kirchmann. Shirley came all the bloody way from South Africa just to be a part of our merry little festival, and having met her a couple of times in the beer tent, I was already glad she’d made the effort even before seeing her show. Yesterday I finally made the trek out to the Avant-Garde bar, mentally prepared myself for the 1-drink minimum (pro tip: don’t order a draft, they have no idea how to pour over there and it will take forEVER), and managed to score a decent seat at the bar for the show.

The show is DERANGED DATING, a hybrid of standup comedy and one-woman theatre that points a skewering glare at Shirley’s history with the dating scene and the perils of the online setup. Featuring some fun character work, most especially when Shirley’s ‘relationship expert’ shows up to ostensibly give our gal a helping hand looking for love, with laughable results. Which is a good thing for us, but many will be feeling Shirley’s pain before the show is over as date after date with self-absorbed singles, and some not-so-singles goes disastrously wrong.

Shirley Kirchmann in DERANGED DATING

Shirley Kirchmann in DERANGED DATING

Shirley Kirchmann is a great comic and solid performer, and this show is a great showcase for her, especially highlighting her sharp, truthful writing style and easy charm. The no-tech venue doesn’t do her a lot of favours (though she still manages some great music-based moments, especially a wince-inducing date prep montage), and I sure hope I get the chance to see her perform again someday in a proper theatre, but for now I’ll happily settle for this and wouldn’t have missed it. Funny, insightful and pretty universal, you definitely want to hear what Shirley Kirchmann has to say. Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid

Ottawa FRINGE-COMA 2014 – DICKY DICKY

In Fringe Fest, Theatre on June 27, 2014 at 8:00 am

Second Thursday already? Thank goodness I’m addled from exhaustion, or I’d start fretting that the end of the 2014 Ottawa Fringe Festival was looming near! As it is, I was pretty lucky to make it to my venue without walking into any walls. And I needed this show to complete my collection of courtroom shows. Although I can’t imagine this show in particular was what the architects had in mind when they built the place.

From longtime Fringe veteran company Garkin Productions comes the two-man sketch comedy assault that is DICKY DICKY, featuring Ray Besharah and David Benedict Brown, and directed by the splendiferous Melanie Karin Brown. Featuring a wide array of comedy sketches, penned by the stellar international lineup of Tom X Chao, John Grady, Jayson MacDonald, Matthew Domville, Megan Findlay, Sterling Lynch and Brent Hirose, this is a sketch show with no fear of the juvenile…in fact, on several occasions Dave and Ray wildly embrace juvenile and make it their own, from the balloon-fueled opening number through epic space battles, cat food commercials, and of course, art house partial nudity.

Oh yes...there will be diapers.  Ray Besharah and Dave Benedict Brown in DICKY DICKY.

Oh yes…there will be diapers. Ray Besharah and Dave Benedict Brown in DICKY DICKY.

Ray and Dave are two of the funniest and most talented kids around and watching them let’er rip with the great array of material in this show is a giddily fun privilege. Their high-speed performance review sketch is one of the wonders of the modern world, and Dave Brown in a mullet wig pretty much can’t be topped for comic value. Hell, I even laughed during the transitions, which Ray Besharah seemed to be having WAY too much fun with. Is this show occasionally gross and childish? Hell yes…who ever heard of a highbrow sketch comedy show, though? If laughing at two overgrown kids with serious comedy chops is your thing (and from the packed houses, it’s a lot of people’s thing), then you need to get a little more Dicky in your life before it’s too late. Just make sure to protect your database. Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid

Ottawa FRINGE-COMA 2014 – ROYAL JELLY

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!

Ottawa FRINGE-COMA 2014 – WUNDERJAMMER

In Fringe Fest, Theatre on June 26, 2014 at 8:48 am

Still trucking along at the Ottawa Fringe Festival, and managing to keep up. I’m somewhere in the 20’s as far as show viewings go, which is respectable I feel. But there’s always room for one more, and having just come from a pretty dark drama, it was time to lighten things up with some laffs. And I had a pretty good idea where the best place was to go an find me some of those.

Off to Academic Hall, then, for Punchbag Playhouse’s WUNDERJAMMER, a brand new sketch comedy show written by Richard Hemphill, who also penned last years ultra-mega-boffo hit DIE ZOMBIE DIE. Dragging that show’s director Stewart Matthews kicking and screaming along, they’ve assembled the ace comedy squad of Richard Gelinas, Victoria Luloff, Jordan Hancey and Allison Harris to knock about the stage as 60 characters in 20 odd back-to-back sketches. Featuring bits ranging from the very silly (ask Mr.Science!) to the very, very silly (Flatulent Cat Farm!), this is clearly a show with something for everyone. Well, everyone who thinks farting cats are funny. That’s everyone, right?

wj2

Matthews eye for physical theatre is put to excellent effect here, and this whole wacky show runs like a well-lubed machine, from the imaginative opening glow-in-the-dark sequence through every goofy moment to follow. The cast is brilliant, and have multiple standout moments. From Jordan Hancey’s first skit as an increasingly flustered shopkeep, he gets effortless laughs with just some perfectly timed glares. Richard Gelinas as a grumpy flower pretty much made my year. Alli Harris is a clowning comic goldmine, delightfully hamming it up as a dubious scientist, oddball duchess, and once operating in seamless tandem with Victoria Luloff as little girls unwisely interrupting a Monster at work. Luloff scores huge as a brilliantly dim supermodel (of the world!), working to eradicate children’s literability, in a sketch that highlights Hemphill’s clever comedic wordsmithery, something at work throughout. This is smartly silly and very hilarious show, and I was grinning like a little kid on his first trip to Bunny Town the whole time. See it and make with the laughing, already. Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid

Ottawa FRINGE-COMA 2014 – IMMOLATION

In Fringe Fest, Theatre on June 26, 2014 at 8:44 am

Over the hump and onto the second half of the Ottawa Fringe festival 2014, but still so many shows to try and see! I’m somehow keeping up on my reviewing schedule, although I think my body is going to have a few strong words with me about my methods in the days to come. Stupid mortal body, so unreliable!

Not that I’d be any happier living forever, if Caitlin Corbett’s IMMOLATION from Here Be Dragons is any indication. A dark but fantastical two-hander playing in Arts Court Theatre, the show stars Corbett and William Beddoe as Kes and Kit, a pair of eternally at-odds lovers who are doomed to be reborn and reborn into different bodies and lives, and can’t seem to stop themselves from finding one another and making a bloody mess of one another. Theirs is a long story indeed…10,000 + years of emotional baggage have messed Kes and Kit up but good when it comes to their relationship. Except that one of them may have figured out a rather drastic way out of their undying dilemma.

Caitlin Corbett in IMMOLATION (pic by Andrew Alexander)

Caitlin Corbett in IMMOLATION (pic by Andrew Alexander)

Directed by Nick Alain, this is a mightily goddamn intense piece of theatre, and surely has the most intense opening scene I’ve witnessed in a good long while. Caitlin Corbett is a solid writer and has created a pretty crafty bit of fantasy-drama here, with a clever premise that allows it to be cast with virtually any combination of actors. I found the play itself had a tendency towards the overdramatic, and felt a bit too over the top at times. But the story itself was fascinating (even if I did miss a salient point or two about just how our hapless heroes came to be in this predicament, but I might have just not been paying enough attention), and I loved the everyman quality that Beddoe brought to the table as long-suffering Kit. A worthy show to see for your dark fantasy fix…and watch out, things WILL get bloody. Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid