The beautiful simplicity of the storyline provokes reflection on the nature of our everyday interactions, the way we communicate and how isolating our world can be, despite the near-constant buzz of noises that surrounds us. The occasions when the sounds of various electronic devices and human voices built up to a nonsensical cacophony brought us right into Vernus’ world, and allowed us to understand that what should be simple has been complicated by what we think of as technology and innovation. The result is that we rejoice at the end when he finds an ingenious way around the obstacles on his path.
Motley hails from Melbourne, Australia; for one reason or another, Australians tend to do really well at the Ottawa Fringe. It seems to be because they’re especially friendly and they tour great shows. Good thing, too: we make it worth their while to travel halfway around the world to present a one-hour show, and it’s certainly worth our while to be able to see them. Dirk Darrow is no exception to this rule. It’s pretty much a guaranteed good time.
One of the most surprising elements of It Is What It Is was the ability of the actors to project an understanding of the depth and complexity of their subject matter, which was occasionally quite dark. I found some of the monologues to be impressive in their frankness and insight compared to those I’ve seen by elder, (presumably) more experienced performers. Some of the later drama was a little heavy-handed and cheesy, but not overwhelmingly so. As well, there were at least a few good one-liners.
I was a little worried when the show opened with circus music, a man with a clown nose and a fat suit, and a strange sequence of umbrellas appearing from his pant legs. However, there were some shining moments in this oddball play about a magician who wants to shed some pounds and find his perfect lady.
McCullagh states from the outset that this is not a show that has a beginning, middle and end. Instead, it is a series of gags linked together by the momentum that McCullagh himself provides. Yet as an audience member it is difficult not to expect some kind of resolution, some denouement to the show. This is likely the reason that McCullagh included the game show aspect, which pits the performer against the audience and assigns fairly arbitrary points according to how “smart” they are. And this is really the best part of the show. It encourages audience participation beautifully and creates a truly interesting dynamic. Sadly, though, it receives the least attention out of all the parts, and in the end is shown to matter fairly little.
From the intro it was clear this show was going to be a good one, and the entire play was punctuated by hearty laughter and enthusiastic cheering from the crowd. Easily the best show I’ve seen at Fringe 2012 so far, the cast made full use of their stage (and gallery), props and costumes without using them as a crutch. The dialogue and banter were smooth, funny and natural, and the transitions between scenes were quick and flawless.
Trashman’s Dillemma was hands down the best performance I have ever seen at a fringe festival. This sci-fi/drama throws its audience into an unknown future distopian world where language has been taken from humanity along with clouds, free will and the ability to truly connect with each other. I spent the entire play on the edge of my seat trying to piece everything together. Though I’m still not entirely sure I got every detail by the end. I can assure you this was one head trip worth taking and since at every show the actors will be changing roles, it may be worth taking more than once.
Partly sponsored by Jer’s Vision in conjunction with their anti-bullying initiatives, Ex Cathedra brings viewers to a world in which homosexuality is punishable by death.
The level of intellect in the writing was a pleasant surprise, and vastly expanded the scope of the production. Besides the excellent structure of the writing, Ryan Reed Mills clearly knows his stuff; everything from George Romero to Buddhism to Tarantino is well researched and extremely well played upon. The show’s tone matches that of films like Zombieland in precisely that way. It is a lighthearted yet deep and impactful dig at zombies (get it?).
Boys will be boys, boys will be wolves, or so the story goes. With a title like Wolves>Boys (aka Wolves are greater than Boys), you might think you’re getting a cross between a hipster flick and a Twilight movie, but luckily you’re not. While the actors themselves say that the story is a bit like the end of a friendship, the point doesn’t come across all that strongly in the play, although you do get a sense that both characters are clearly taking different paths in their lives. In the end, I say this: go see Wolves>Boys for the laughs and the hilarious flashlight work!