Wednesday, August 23, 2006

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.


Alana Elliott said...

LMAO @ hot cougars!

You're awesome. All you need is tight black pleather pants and a red halter top, combined with WAY too much eyeliner and a musky smelling perfume, and you're set. :P

Those Fringe performances sound really good, I should have caught the Fringe here last month. By god, and spinach dip! You can't go wrong with spinach dip.

hilary m. said...

Sounds like the fringe was fringe-tastic!
I'm glad Dave performed well, he has every time I've seen him. I feel bad that I missed it! *You should check him out in "Brokeback Mountain", his performance was one of the only truly funny parts in the entire movie.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

You certainly cannot go wrong with spinach dip, Alana. In fact, spinach makes most things better.
If you ever see me dressed like that, you have my permission to shoot me in the head (especially the perfume part).

It was pretty great, Hilary, and David was definitely a highlight. I think I remember him from Brokeback Mountain - did he play the guy that delivered supplies up to the mountain?

Barbara said...

Aren't cougars supposed to be single? Or is that me being naive again?
Now I want spinach dip so bad...
I have yet to see Brokeback mountain. One day I will get my lazy butt to the dvd rental place or whatever they call it now and rent it along with the 70 other films I still need to see.

Allison said...

"...let alone be able to zip up our jeans in order to look like the hot cougars we are" LOL, you're too much.

Those plays sound excellent, and so does that food! Glad ya had fun.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Barbara W, cougars just have to ACT single, not actually be single.
You have to see Brokeback Mountain!Cowboy love - it doesn't get any finer than that.

Allison, a far too good time was had by all. Even once we got back to the room and into our pjs.

hilary m. said...

He said something about soup. Or beans. Something Brokeback Mountain-y.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

yeah yeah yeah, that was him, Hilary. He was warning them about the food. He was pretty great.

chuck said...

In the words of Cindy Lauper, GIRLS JUST WANT TO HAVE FUN!

Sounds like you and your chums had quite a bit of merriment...

Anonymous said...

Drinking in America sounds incredibly poignant. There's not enough emphasis in WHY drugs are so prevalent in our culture. 'Regular' folks would be surprised if they knew who did what drugs and why.

But the zombies, fellow zombie worshipper, that sounds like a marvelous play.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

We did, Chuck. We have a blast on our Womanly Weekends. They just don't happen often enough.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Drinking was a very powerful play, Michelle, and yes, there wasn't a lot of investigation into the reasons that people self-medicate, although it alluded to loneliness, frustration, boredom, ambition.

But YES, the zombie play was the thing. You would have loved it. It was so much fun, but surprisingly thoughtful in its look at the crumbling of society.

Anonymous said...

WOW, all the important lessons... I don't mean this to sound flip at all, but the coordinators of this event must have really had it on the ball. It's not easy to balance insight and fun into one weekend!

Sounds fabulous, girl. Makes me want to be a Martha wannabe! 'cept I'd be a brown Martha - somehow that sounds wrong.

John Mutford said...

For a play entitled "Eat My Bran", it's not at all what I would have expected...

Oh wait.


Serah said...

Oh I would have loved the Zombie one! I love zombie and vampire movies? I don't know why b/c the only truly great zombie movie is Shaun of the Dead. But they are quite amuzing.

Cougars ROCK! Not really there yet although at work I feel like one, all those youngin's. My sister had a younger boyfriend so she likes to think she's a cougar...mostly for her rock star clothes and the high heels!

mellowlee said...

LOL! That sounds like an amazing time Barbara! I really want to see "Eat My Brain"! Alana, you forgot the fake tans! heehee!

karen said...

Mmmm, edamame, drool...

I REALLY want to see the zombie play! It sounds brilliant. Great reviews all round, sounds like you made excellent viewing choices. Glad you had fun!

Alana Elliott said...

LOL, Mel. You're totally right!

In addition to pleather pants, halter tops, excessive eyeliner and musky perfume, you must also look like an orange-coloured worn leather sofa. :P

Oooh, oooh! And don't forget the hair scrunchies!

Ben Heller said...

What good times you all seem to be having !
And free beer from one of the performers. Where do you get that sort of welcome ? It's nice when you hear of artists and performers who appreciate their audience instead of going through the motions like it's just another show in just another town.

WolfHeart RavenHorse said...

Ahhh, we are somethin' aren't we! lol Cougars hey....well, ok, I'll go for that I suppose! hehe What a nifty photo. It was certainly a great weekend!

I certainly could have gone for more plays! Next year, if we do any fringing, we must take in more plays! Barb, you made some fab choices on the ones we did see. I was not disappointed with any of them! I would have to say that my fav was Drinking in America. I found I was just entranced in it...I could not believe the time flew the way it did!

Thanks again for making such amazing choices! I love our Martha weekends, and yes, you are right, they do not happen enough! Friends are the most important people in the world, and I am so blessed to have the three of you to count as my very bestest!

Love ya,


Barbara Bruederlin said...

Michelle, a brown Martha would be an excellent addition to the Martha entourage. I'm certain you would fit right in with the rest of us loonies.

hahaha John - "eat my bran" - it took me a couple of reads to catch that one. Not entirely certain I would want to see that play. You kill me!

Yes, zombie movies, Sarah! LOVED Shaun of the Dead! Actually 28 Days Later was really good as well, and not just because Cillian Murphy was naked.

Okay, Mellowlee and Alana - you guys are never going to do a makeover on me, understood? I'm sure you'd have a great time making me look like a "orange-coloured worn leather sofa", but then I'd need to kill myself and that would suck.

Kees, an edamame fan! Aren't they yummy?
Eat My Brain was so much fun, and I have so much admiration for those youngsters that performed it.

How true, Ben. It's great when the respect between a performer and the audience flows both ways. Sort of like when you by a cd from the opening band at a concert and they are so pleased and grateful. It's heartwarming.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Hey Bev - ya hot cougar, you! At least that young waiter lad thought so...

I agree - more plays next time. There were a couple others I would have loved to have seen as well. Eliz helped picked the plays out too - you know how good she is at making decisions.

I love you guys too - and I'm so glad we are getting together in September.

mellowlee said...

*killing myself laughing over your reply* You mentioned a few good zombie flicks there. I would love to start a good zombie movie collection! I think I liked Shaun of the Dead the best. Hmmmm, that sounds like a good post eh? :)

WolfHeart RavenHorse said...

Mmm, yes, that hot waiter was...well, yummy! lol Must go back there again soon! hahaha I don't think any of us played single, but we are all fun flirts!


Will said...

That zombie play sounds phenomenal, and what a brilliant idea to have stuff going on while people are filing in. Sort of subverts your expectations, doesn't it. "Lord of the Flies for the myspace generation" - what a brilliant description. Considering that the 'myspace generation' (am I included in that?) probably doesn't go to the theatre too much, it's cool there's a story that can appeal to them. (Were there a lot of young people there?). Wish we got some cool zombie plays out here.

Barbara said...

Is there a selection of cool zombie plays? Or just the one?
I used to love zombie movies.
I will add shaun of the dead to my list of must rent movies.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Oh yeah, Mel! A zombie flick post - you KNOW I'm there. With a moniker like mine, how could I not be?
For the record, I LOVED Shaun of the Dead. You know when George S asks people which character from a movie they want to spend the rest of their lives with? I always pick Shaun.

We've got nothing to be ashamed of, Bev. I think the hubbies are secretly proud when guys hit on us.

Will, hon, you are BEYOND the myspace generation. You are far too savvy for that.
There actually were quite a lot of young people at the play. A lot fo them were friends and supporters of the cast, which was really cool. Actually, this play was so popular that they added an extra performance and at the performance we were at, they added more chairs.
I wish you could have seen it - it was so cool.

There was only one zombie play, Barbara W, and you know I had to go to it, being a huge zombie fan.
I love zombie movies the best. You MUST see Shaun of the Dead! It's adorable!