We said we were going fringing, and, by god, fringe we did...This is the unsavoury crew who tackled the Calgary Fringe Festival this year - Eliz, Bev, Barb, and Sandra, collectively known as the Marthas.
We had that little fridge in the hotel room just groaning trying to keep all of our treats cool - the sushi, the edamame, the cheese, the spinach dip, the 900 other dips, the rhubarb slice, the wine of course. I'm a little surprised that we even had time to go fringing with all the eating we had to do, let alone be able to zip up our jeans in order to look like the hot cougars we are .
EAT MY BRAIN - This was the one I was completely stoked for. I mean, five people holed up in a cabin surrounded by zombies. What's not to love? And it delivered. In spades.
Eat My Brain was performed by a theatre troupe from Red Deer, Alberta, consisting of a really young cast, who truly put their hearts and guts into this thing. You know when you enter the theatre at most plays, there's an empty set? Not at Eat My Brain. The cast were all on stage, vigourously attacking invisible monsters as we filed into the small dark stuffy theatre in the basement of a church, one woman smashing something with a baseball bat, one fellow stabbing at something else with a hockey stick, etc. I broke into a sweat just watching them. Oh, I just checked their handout - they have a fight choreographer. Cool.
This play, by Joel Crichton, was funny, irreverent, slightly gory, and as much about the unraveling of personal relationships in the face of the extinction of the human race, as it was about battling zombies. Very lord of the flies for the myspace generation. In fact, the final word in the play was "pOwned", uttered just before the lights went out and the final shotgun blast ripped the air.
^^ I even took this poster (with permission!) because I was so taken with this play and with this young energetic theatre troupe. I'm going to put it on my bedroom door.
P.S. 69 - a cute and funny one woman show, about a woman who takes her first ever job as a substitute teacher in a rundown school in New York.
I've been a fan of one-person shows ever since Ted Needles did such a great job with the Wingfield Farm series. The ability of one person to morph seamlessly into another person simply by changing their voice and their mannerisms fascinates me.
Susan Jeremy, a stand-up comic, was delightful in her multiple roles and impressed me with her quick thinking when at one point she started to choke on her own spit (just like I do!). She was playing the role of the hapless teacher at that point, said "class, teacher has to get a drink of water" and disappeared around the corner for a second to do that. Her quick thinking earns my tip of the hat.
And I loved that the one of the characters is a stripper at the Vagina Vault. haha
DRINKING IN AMERICA - was described as a dark comedy that examines the role that drugs and alcohol have come to play in the North American psyche. Definitely an emphasis on “dark”.
David Trimble (the American actor who is also Hilary’s mom’s cousin, not the Irish politician) is absolutely stunning in his portrayal of the many characters in this theatre in the round treatment of Eric Bogosian’s intense look at our fascination with addiction and escape.
I knew from the start that this would not be your usual theatre experience (well besides it being the Fringe and all). We had just settled into our seats when the actor made his way through the audience, hopped up on the stage, asked how we were, and got the usual mild response. He then stated that since it was a hot day and hot and stuffy in the theatre (yes, the same venue that hosted Eat My Brain) did anyone want an ice-cold beer, raise your hand if you do. My hand of course immediately shot up into the air, his words bypassing my brain altogether and shooting directly to my arm, and I was indeed rewarded with the promised ice-cold can of beer. Mr Trimble then asked “so how is everybody now?” and received a much more animated response.
And that of course was one of the points of the whole exercise, to examine our relationship with alcohol and other substances that people routinely use to anesthetize themselves.
This was a very powerful and hard-hitting play. Delivered through a series of monologues by 12 consecutive characters, from a pathetic industrial tile salesman, to a cocksure hungover teenager, to a short-order cook, to a cocaine-addled Hollywood agent, Trimble dominated the stage with his enormous presence. A flip of a collar, a swig from a bottle, was all it took for the transition between characters to be complete. For an hour and a half, he mesmerized me with his characters, some pathetic, some hateful, most eliciting a distinct level of discomfort from viewing their relationship with addiction.
When I stood at the end of the play to offer my ovation, I felt it was truly one of the more deserved. And I'm not just saying that because he gave me a beer.