June 22nd, 2006

Mark!

Finally Feel

6:30 Call 7:00 Show 8:15 Beer tent 9:00 Oak 9:30 Audience 11:00 Loner

It finally felt like I was actually at the Fringe last night. Woo!

Friends of Mine and Yours

Ottawa puppet-master and human tape recorder Grant Harding has a website, an actual website, The Abstractions. Previously, Grant was the proprietor of his own Dinosaur Destination, which got him invited to a German symposium. There's no doubt in my mind that my linking to his site will lead directly to several exciting opportunities, because that's how Grant plays the game. Palaeontological puppeteers are in short supply, yknow.

My other friends don't have websites and can't read maps.

Review: Teaching Shakespeare

Doctor Keir Co. - Montreal, QC
by Kier Cutler

Ahh, I could hear the cynics at it again in the back of my skull. "A parody of Shakespeare? How original!" Whack! Pow! Blam! That's put a stop to them. Ysee, this isn't a once-over of the Bard himself, but rather of that peculiar brand of college professor who everyone either loves or hates; the kind who, given the choice between actually following the lesson plan or infusing some real sensation into their classroom, will bend over backwards trying to get the students to realize that their education is worth more than the piece of paper that's going to bump them into a higher-than-average income bracket someday. Kier Cutler has produced a character who is all at once likeable and yet infuriating, victimized by a lecture hall full of unsympathetic faces who just want to get through the assigned scene before the end of class.

Of course, the mimicry of the obsessed professor brings the laughs, but what really makes this show shine is that he's got a point. Partway through, Kier takes a moment to explain the types of Shakespearian verses ("a quick refresher," as he mildly puts it.) I glanced around in the dimness of the house, and I saw it on more than a few faces: the people were learning something. The basic groundwork, the intermediate analysis, and the advanced principles all come into play at one point or another, making it possibly the most instructive piece of dramatic how-to for someone who had never been to a play before, even as they watched a man's life unravel before their eyes. It shows both sides of the coin, and that's hard to do.

Final Verdict: Good Play, especially if you take a friend who's never seen one. (You can explain the complicated stuff to them afterwards at the pub.)

Another Review: Off My Wavelength

Rick Cousins - Deep River, ON
by Rick Cousins

When I think of pirate radio, I think of the hip-hop station "Wildstyle" from Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. I don't think of announcers wearing pirate hats and eyepatches playing sea shanties, and I certainly don't think of the conceptual "audience participation" that's always been a mystery to me. I blame my mother. She went to see Hair and it freaked her out when the hippies started walking across the backs of the seats. I think she also got roped into seeing a clown show where someone threw popcorn at her. That's why I have to go alone to anything promising to literally draw the audience in; something happened to me in the first thirty seconds that immediately told me my mother would hate this. No, I won't say what. That would ruin the surprise.

But far from playing the evil clown from our nightmares, Rick immediately became the most apologetic man I've ever seen take the stage. He handed me an action figure which I'm not ashamed to be able to identify as Frieza from Dragonball Z, and proceeded to blow our minds with his onstage ensemble of speakers, wires, and puppets. Being the stage manager of a show with a good variety of sound clips, I know firsthand how much pressure there is to get it right backstage; to do it up front shows a level of bravery that is admittedly alien to me. And then there's the sky-high level of background knowledge; Rick makes jokes about Fireside Theatre, Rocky & Bullwinkle, Franz Kafka, and old CBC announcers whose names escape me now. Some of the jokes might go over your head, and that's okay; you can go home and look them up afterwards. It's sort of like what Jon Stewart might've done if he'd been working in the early eighties.

Also, being able to pratfall on command is damn impressive.

Final Verdict: Good Play, but don't sit too close to the entrance if you're squeamish like my mother.

Is it 3:30 already? I guess I'll watch the Brazilians dispatch another hapless opponent, then crank it up to the Fringe to check out some more shows.