Ottawa Fringe Reviews: Dance Class Mirrors

Reviews: Shadows in Bloom, Making Deals with Gods, Transcendental Masturbation, Circumference, The Official Napoleon Dynamite Dance Class

Quite an interesting day for shows, really. A theme for me throughout the day was reflection, both of my thoughts and of myself as a human being. I didn’t like everything I saw, but I am still inspired by what I saw on stage and in me.

Shadows in Bloom by Gemma Wilcox (Gemma Wilcox, London, UK): Wow, what a fantastic way to start the day. Gemma Wilcox takes you on a beautiful story of a woman growing through change and matters of the heart. I was amazed at her more than twenty characters and their distinctiveness from one another — from a calla lily to her boyfriend to lobsters to a sultry jazz songstress. Her use of flashbacks and daydreams gave a wonderful texture to this show. I was drawn in from the beginning as I could see myself in some of her story. And it’s a lesson I know well. Things take time to grow, and they will only grow when you listen. www.gemmawilcox.com

Making Deals with Gods by Sophie Tilgner (Scheherazade Theatre, Ottawa): We’ve all made our deals with them and with ourselves, but how often do they work out as we had hoped? And if our lives were created for a certain plan or our outcomes fated for a certain destiny, what does it matter what deals we make? Who do we answer to? Who do the gods, or god, answer to? These were all questions going through my mind in this play (and if only I could have come away with answers). Definitely food for thought for coming journal entries and dreams. But in the meantime, these five actors certainly do not disappoint in posing these difficult questions. This production is full of creative characters, excellent staging, well-placed tech elements, and wonderful storytelling.

Transcendental Masturbation by Glen Callender UFA (Glen Callender UFA, Vancouver): This is an hour of my life that I will never get back. Do I regret it? Well, as someone who has been known to like humour that pushed politically correct boundaries to the point of discomfort, I can’t say that I do. And kudos to Callender for putting together this show, as there are many who would not have the shiny skivvies to do it. Honestly, my only disappointment comes from the fact that it felt more like going to a stand-up comedy routine than a theatrical production. There’s some fairly painless audience participation, so don’t be afraid to speak up. Oh, and don’t touch underneath your seat.

Circumference by Amy Salloway (Awkward Moment Productions, Minneapolis): Best. Show. So. Far. And the biggest mirror for me, too. This production was funny, endearing, and heart-wrenching all rolled into one. Amazing performance from Amy Salloway. And again, with these shows that open a window into the heart and soul of these actors, I am left amazed by their ability to get up on stage and bear it all. All I can say is thank you, Amy Salloway. www.amysalloway.com

The Official Napoleon Dynamite Dance Class by Darren Boquist (v-Live E Productions, Vancouver): This was not a show that I enjoyed that much. It is quite possible that I went into it with my expectations quite high as I totally loved the movie Napoleon Dynamite. I was quite happy to have bumped into someone from Fredericton though. We both agreed that the “appearances” of Napoleon involved some great sampling.

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