Review by Brian M. Carroll
66 Min | Bouffon | Mature
Uncensored, unjuried; the artists get 100% of the box office. Three of the principles of the Fringe.
This means artists get to do whatever they want. Because they’re willing to take the risks, they get all the revenue at the door, lots or little.
Read the phone book; perform The Sound of Music; write their own play; perform with penis puppets; whatever. The artists choose.
That’s the power of the Fringe.
David Craig of Sasa Theatre has chosen to perform a specific style of comedy: Bouffon. He studied Bouffon with Philippe Gaulier. As have many others. What they choose to do with that training varies widely.
According to Gaulier, Bouffon originated with the “ugly people” of France, people with disfiguring scars, with deformities, lepers. Craig has chosen to portray Love Bug Louie as having a four foot tall, misshapen body. He wears a suit that shortens his frame and sticks out his “ass” and “stomach”. He becomes one of the “ugly people”. Just as Lon Chaney chose to perform Quasimodo.
The set reflects this choice. It is strewn with detritus of modern society. Old computer keyboards, cardboard, a tube style television, an abandoned mannequin, the modern equivalent of the swamp to which the “ugly people” were usually banished.
During festivals in the French Renaissance, the ugly people were expected to entertain the “beautiful people”. According to Gaulier, during the performances, the bouffon’s goal was to get away with insulting or disgusting the “beautiful people” as much as possible.
And that’s what Love Bug Louie does: insult and disgust. No target is too high or low: dictators, a certain Canadian Prime Minister, the Ethical Oil industry, the one percenters, the 99 percenters, the comfortable middle class, news organizations, magazines, porn… As Johnny Strabler replies in The Wild One when Mildred asks what he’s rebelling against: “Whadda you got?”
Some scenes are moving. The depiction of toxins in water used to extract oil from the oilsands, the leaking of this water from holding ponds into the water supply, where it affects fish and the native population, is graphic and powerful.
Louie’s roasting of theatre critics had the two reviewers in the audience chuckling in recognition.
But compared with rant demons like Lenny Bruce, Rick Mercer, Scott Thompson, Keir Cutler, and Jem Rolls I found Louie’s rant scattered and naive. Scattered like Lenny Bruce days before his death.
Craig’s interpretation may be of interest to students of Bouffon.
But the small audience on opening night left confused.
Love Bug Louie in a Blessing from the Cursed is playing at BYOV E – Studio 311 on Friday, June 15 at 9:00PM; Saturday, June 16 at 11:00PM; Sunday, June 17 at 6:00PM; Tuesday, June 19 at 11:00PM; Wednesday, June 20 at 6:00PM; Thursday, June 21 at 9:00PM; Friday, June 22 at 11:00PM; Saturday, June 23 at 6:00PM; and Sunday June 24 at 9:00PM. Tickets are $10.