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.

Complex Numbers
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,
© Copyright (c) The Ottawa Citizen

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2 responses to “Ottawa Fringe Reviews: June 20, 2011

  1. Luna Allison’s “Falling Open” is exactly that, a series of startling openings that function as excavations of the psychic terrains of sexual abuse. Told from the point of view of a doll that narrates the story as well as performs the central roles of the abuser and the abused, this piece of “storytelling theatre” startles in the way it infuses props, especially visual projections, with the “loops” of madness, a madness borne of suppressed, buried memory, which interrupt all aspects of becoming in the lives of those who have experienced sexual abuse. The intimacy of the venue, Ms Allison’s home-the set, a bedroom, primarily-reifies the depths of interiority one must go to inhabit the final lines of this remarkable performance, “There is no glory here. It’s just living.” Expect a performance where the embodiments will lead to metaphors-compounded, numerous, multiple-all drawn from a precise approach to narrative.

  2. Thanks I really had a fsiaattnc time there. i was lucky in that I got to be there when they were hosting the All Star Game and for the beginning of Winterlude. I only wish it was a bit warmer during my time there!

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