Reviews: Busta Rhymes with MC Hot Pink, Boat Load, The Girl in the Picture Tries to Hang Up the Phone, Die Roten Punkte – Super Musikant, Telegrams from the New Canadian Cinema, Crude Love
A long post today, but it reflects two days of shows. Partly due to tiredness Friday night, but also because the last show I saw that night was so powerful. I just continue to be amazed.
Busta Rhymes with MC Hot Pink by Penny Ashton (Penny Ashton, Auckland, New Zealand): First off, I’ll get this out of the way, I’m not one for watching stand-up style comedy. I’m not sure why. So, like Transcendental Masturbation, it was a little disappointing for me personally just because I was just looking for something a little different. With that said, once again, I’m so impressed by the ability of the actors of both of these shows to push the limits and get people out of their comfort zone. Is this a goal for many comedians? Maybe that’s why stand-up comedy doesn’t click for me like it does for other people. But with that said, this show was very fun and funny. And creative. I thought the poetry was quite clever for the most part, and I really enjoyed Ashton’s songs (I’d love to hear her sing jazz!). She has a powerful stage presence and took us all along with her for the ride. And a nod to people who get up and volunteer for those audience participation moments. I kind of always want to, but never do. www.hotpink.co.nz/
Boat Load by Jayson McDonald (Stars and Hearts, Ottawa): A fantastic show. Vibrant characters, well-paced, and excellent staging made for a great story about aspirations and choices we make. This is one of the first shows I’ve seen that really made me feel like I was there with the actor walking around the town, in a friend’s apartment, on the doorstep to his basement apartment . . . it really felt like Jayson McDonald was taking the audience by the hand and bringing us up on stage with him.
The Girl in the Picture Tries to Hang Up the Phone by Hume Baugh (Optic Heart Theatre/Threshold, Toronto): This show blew me away on many levels, I’m not even sure where to begin. Hume Baugh is an excellent storyteller. Listening to him describing his mother at different points in her life — I felt like I knew her. And how amazing is it that Baugh would pay tribute to his mother in this way, painting her as she was.
I was so captivated by this play that I didn’t start thinking about it until the walk home. I couldn’t help but think of my own family relationships. I thought a lot about my grandmother, actually. My grandmother was nothing like the mother portrayed in this story, but her passing affected me to a similar degree, I think. She herself had been quite vibrant until shortly after my grandfather died. As her health started to go a bit, she took to saying, “It’s a great life, until you weaken.” It was another five years after that that she really started to get worse, and eventually landed in the hospital, going in for weeks at a time. Well, I was with her when she died. She had been in the hospital for about a week. I sat with her every day, holding her hand. She seemed to be in quite a bit of pain, so I would mentally send the same thought to her, “give me all your pain,” and then I would think of different images in my mind that I thought she would like, in case she really could sense what I was thinking — her lilac bush, her house that she loved, my grandfather and I snowmobiling and fishing. On her last night, I had already gone home, after visiting hours. I was sitting on the bed looking in the mirror, looking through myself. I started to see the faces of everyone in family — my mother and father, aunts and uncles, my grandfather, and finally, my grandmother. It was like my face was morphing into all of their faces. When I saw my grandmother, something in me told me that I had to go back to the hospital. This was at around 11pm. The nurses let me sit with her all night. I fell asleep in the chair in the corner at about 4am, and she died at about 5:30. I’m so happy to have that story, and I am happy to have remembered it last night, thanks to this play.
This story is wonderful to see, and I highly recommend it to anyone who still has not seen it. You’ll find something in there for you that will stay with you for quite some time.
Die Roten Punkte – Super Musikant (Super Musician) by Otto and Astrid Rot (Tobias & Bartholomew, Berlin): Wow! This show is as awesome as everyone else has said it is! Everything from writing, directing, lights and sound, wardrobe and make-up, to acting and performing, this is a fantastic production. I felt like I was in good hands the minute they stepped on stage. With two standing ovations in one performance to boot, you should not miss this show! www.myspace.com/dierotenpunkte
Telegrams from the New Canadian Cinema by North Country Cinema (North Country Cinema, Ottawa): I can’t say this really spoke to me, unfortunately. For sure, the production of the films was top-notch, and I enjoyed the characters in each of the short films, but I got lost with the story and purpose of each film. I felt like I was out of my element, that maybe the films were just too artsy for me. I just felt like the symbolism and plot lines were over my head. I was also lost with the live-acted scenes between each film. But if you like these kinds of abstract themes and images, I’m sure you wouldn’t be disappointed.
Crude Love by Russell Bennett and Gillian Bennett (Big Smoke Productions, Vancouver): I enjoyed this production. The chemistry between the two actors was quite obvious and made for a great theatre-watching experience. I liked how it had a message to tell about the Alberta Tar Sands but instead of preaching it, this play wove the message through the lives of two very different characters. This is something I hope we see more of in society, to be honest, as I think it makes this crucial message more down-to-earth and real for people, so they can touch it, feel it, and maybe even do something about it. www.bigsmokeproductions.com