Reviews: Mugged, Walking the Labyrinth, Old Growth, Fear of Being Heard, The Spy
Thanks to CHUO 89.1 FM, I have a press pass to the Ottawa Fringe Festival, taking place from June 19-29. It’s 10 days of 52 plays ranging from drama to German punk to Napoleon Dynamite dancing. While there are several production companies based in Ottawa, shows are being mounted by people from all across Canada as well as from the US, the UK, Germany, South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand. There’s also some spoken word performances happening along with a touch of cinema and stilt walking. Everything you need is at www.ottawafringe.com.
Mugged by Andrew Payne (Ottawa School of Speech Drama Young Company, Ottawa): This was pretty decent. I liked the play itself and the subject matter. As we get older, sometimes we forget about the tough issues teenagers face. Crime affects people of all ages, but I think it’s easy for teens to feel isolated, and it can be hard to figure out the best thing to do at any given moment, let alone when you are facing a tragedy. As someone in alternative media, I also appreciated the message about the role media plays in tragedy and “telling the truth.” Overall, great effort. The young actors did pretty well dealing with Payne’s British script, and I was glad they didn’t use accents. www.ossd.com
Walking the Labyrinth by Peter Cavell (Electric Lethe Productions, London, Ontario): This original re-imagining is based on a Greek myth. Theseus, son of the King of Athens, set out to defeat a minotaur in a labyrinth, which was created by King Minos of Crete. What was really interesting about this production was the creative multimedia experience — altered voices and pre-recorded vocal music, poetry, dialog and effects — it added to the dark mystique of the show. Facing the unknown, facing darkness, and making choices is a common theme throughout. While some of the dialog was lost in the effects and the extreme low lighting was somewhat disconcerting at times, I thoroughly enjoyed this unique and creative production. www.petercavell.com
Old Growth by Alex Eddington (Acky-Made, Toronto): Everywhere you turn these days there is something about the environment. It’s in politics, in our schools and places of work, it’s on the Net, and it’s in our art. But this play asks what is environmentalism? It’s not a political platform or a religion, but rather, it is us. This play asks us to stop consuming the world around us because we are in fact consuming ourselves. Overall, I did enjoy this production. It was a little scattered, much like me and my hippie friends were back in 1997 (when the resurgence of hippiedom hit my then-home Fredericton), when the play is set. But I think that signifies and reflects our needing to process the state of the world in which we live and how big of an issue were are trying to come to terms with with respect to our existence and our home. www.AlexEddington.com
Fear of Being Heard by Kyla Gray (MoMo Productions, Ottawa): Throughout my life I’ve always questioned the line and even the difference between dream and reality. This play is an abstract blending of the two to make us question how real either one is. There were some interesting moments, such as when the actor was being moved by an imagined puppeteer, and a few of the dance sequences were beautiful and hypnotic. But overall, this was not a show that resonated with me.
The Spy by Jonno Katz (Epicworlds, Melbourne, Australia): Brilliant. This one-man show takes you through a whole cast of characters involved in espionnage. Set in the 70’s, Katz travels the world in search of his own truth and comes across valuable secrets that others wish to kill for. This show is funny, engaging, and interactive. A definite must-see of the Fringe. www.epicworlds.com
Coming up for me (if I can make it): Circumference (lots of buzz about this show), Shadows in Bloom (another buzz-show), Making Deals with Gods, Without a Clue, Totem Figures, Inferno Sonata (looks pretty hot) and many more.