Ottawa Fringe Reviews: June 20, 2011
A brisk sucker punch and a dispiriting romp about infidelity
by Patrick Langston, The Ottawa Citizen
The Sucker Punch
Stupid Gumball Dispenser Productions
At SAW Gallery
Reviewed June 18
Recently announced research at the University of Montreal suggests that the drug metyrapone may help ease painful memories by reducing the emotions associated with them. The question is, would such a pill alter what it means to be human by shrinking our depth of experience and changing our ability to learn from mistakes? Brent Hirose, a darn good actor, ponders something similar in his solo show about four characters and a nifty device that lets you undo actions that you know you are going to regret. Is life diminished by not having regrets? Hirose asks.
Do we not have some responsibility for trying to avoid stupid actions in the first place and then accepting the consequences when we do screw up? Crisp vignettes, some slam poetry, and important ethical issues define this brisk, thoughtful show.
Silent QUEMB Productions
At Academic Hall, University of Ottawa
Reviewed June 19
Fiona (Stephanie Halin), who likes her sex slightly rough, is itching to have an extramarital affair. She has her sights set on co-worker Dan (Tim Anderson), and he’s game. Fiona’s husband Alex (J.P. Chartier) wants to be accepting of his wife’s hankerings — in fact, they’ve even done a workshop on how to do it (how to have an extramarital affair, that is) so that no one gets hurt. Also in the picture is Maggie (Ellen Manchee), the hypochondriac boss of Fiona and Dan who appears occasionally to nudge the plot along. Jenn Keay plays the workshop facilitator; seated behind a semitransparent curtain, she reads a few passages from a textbook about the ins-and-outs of extramarital sex.
That, in a nutshell, is playwright Nadine Thornhill’s unnecessary play about love, honesty in relationships, and other stuff. Directed by Ken Godmere, the acting is nearly as dispiriting as the script. Oh well, different strokes and all that sort of thing.
F****** Stephen Harper: How I Sexually Assaulted the 22nd Prime Minister of Canada and Saved Democracy
Ten Foot Pole Theatre
At Studio Léonard-Beaulne
Reviewed June 19
During the 2008 federal election, Rob Salerno, a Toronto-based gay political columnist for the newspaper Xtra, decided to ask the leader of each party about his or her position on gay rights. Stephen Harper was the only one to decline. Salerno’s determination to interview Harper resulted in an assault charge (you’ll need to see the show for the story behind that) as well as the title — a metaphor, obviously — of this production. It’s styled as a performance piece accompanied by overheads, and Salerno does some brief role-playing. He wades into what he says is Conservative homophobia, reminding us of cuts to HIV/AIDS programs, opposition to gay marriage and the like. Most of what he covers we already know, but to see it gathered in a one-hour format by the entertaining, passionate and intensely opinionated Salerno does remind us that politicians can be dangerous folks indeed.
Ottawa Fringe Festival
What: Celebration of indie theatre, with 60 companies delivering more than 300 performances
When & where: Continues until June 26 at Arts Court and 13 other downtown venues.
Information: 613-232-6162, ottawafringe.com
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