Monday, June 20, 2005

Hip-Hop for Dumeez

Wow.

I honestly don't think I've ever laughed so hard at a show in my life. This hour-long instructional "DVD" features VowelMovement and Bushman teaching you how to improve your street cred.

The audience loves them, and for good reason. This show is clever, well-written and tight in every way. It's obvious to anyone who has seen these guys before - they are not casual hip-hop listeners, and they are absolutely serious about their craft.

See this show. Seriously.

Show Title: HIP-HOP 4 DUMMEEZ
Venue: Arts Court Theatre
Genre: Musical Comedy
Suggested Age Group: 13+
Run Time: 60 mins.
Admission Price: $8

Synopsis:
Abbott & Costello meets Outkast in this hilarious comedy lesson in all things hip-hop. Whether you love hip-hop or can't understand a damn word of it, Sable & Batalion (JOB: The Hip-Hop Musical) will have you boppin' your head to the beat.
"Talk of the Fest" (Just for Laughs 2004).

Showtimes:
Sun. June 19 (22h30), Mon. June 20 (23h30), Tue. June 21 (19h00), Thurs. June 23 (17h30), Fri. June 24 (22h00), Sun. June 26 (17h30)

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Felix Listens to the World

This show embodies what the Fringe is all about. Brilliant storytelling, inventive sets and props, and just a fresh approach to theatre.

The only problem with this one is that I am still not 100% sure what the story actually was, even though I loved how it was told. The play follows one character played by three actors (and some dolls) and framed by various lights controlled on the stage. The result is a very cinematic effect, allowing the actors to switch from one scene to another, by simply turning off one lamp and turning on another.

The three actors, all from Australia, do what they call Junkyard Theatre, creating theatre out of junk left by the curbside. As performers, they are very strong, and with a well-workshopped script, they would be incredible by any standard. What's missing here is that great script. The direction, the execution and the design all make up what the show lacks in clear narrative, but it still leaves the audience wondering what exactly happened.

See this show, if for no other reason than that you may never see theatre like this again.

Show Title: Felix Listens to the World
Venue: Studio Leonard-Beaulne
Genre: Junk Yard Theatre
Run Time: 40 mins.
Admission Price: $8

Synopsis:
Winner of the Melbourne Fringe Festival, Felix Listens to the World is a love story of sorts. Follow Felix as he journeys after his sweetheart who has sailed away in a teacup! This show uses performer-operated lighting, sound, and original inventions to pull you into this claustrophobic fairy tale.

Showtimes:
Fri. June 17 (20h30), Sat. June 18 (19h00), Sun. June 19 (15h00), Wed. June 22 (23h00), Thurs. June 23 (17h30), Sat. June 25 (20h00)

Hidden in This Picture

Ah, the ever-recycled conflict between writer and director, between stage and screen. This Aaron Sorkin play brings it into the spotlight once again when a first-time film director is intent on getting the perfect final shot to his film - an eleven minute scene of marines returning home after war games, juxtaposed against the setting sun.

The conflict begins when three cows enter the frame. Unable to remove them in time, and unable to shoot the scene again, the writer and director exchange philosophies about artistic integrity.

The show is well acted by William Beddoe, Sam Saber and Brian Stewart, though Alan Jeans shone through in the small role of the rather thick assistant director. Had the others been up to his calibre, this would have been a fantastic show.

Unfortunately, none of the actors had much to work with in the script. To me, this is one of those plays that has no particular relevance, and is just mildly entertaining. The kind I leave saying... "so what?"

That being said, Vision Theatre does an admirable job of pulling it off, and it is well worth seeing.

Show Title: Hidden in This Picture
Venue: Academic Hall
Genre: Satire
Suggested Age Group: 7+
Run Time: 50 mins.
Admission Price: $8

Synopsis:
A writer and a director are teetering between triumph and catastrophe — as the sun sets on their first feature film, can they find artistic fulfillment in a cow pasture? Award-winning playwright Aaron Sorkin (The West Wing, A Few Good Men) takes aim at Hollywood with this hilarious satire about filmmaking.

Showtimes:
Fri. June 17 (21h30), Sat. June 18 (15h30), Mon. June 20 (23h00), Thurs. June 23 (22h00), Sat. June 25 (23h00), Sun. June 26 (17h30)

Three Sisters: A Black Opera in Three Acts

I'll be honest - I really didn't know what to expect from a "little Chekovian freakshow on the prarie," but I have to admit, I was pleasantly surprised. There was no program for this show, so I have no idea what the actors' names were, but I can describe their performances nonetheless.

The story is somewhat loosely based on Chekov's Three Sisters, and follows the tragedy of three unusual sisters - one who sucks cock for quarters, one who is the ugliest girl in the province and miscarried after getting pregnant during her first period, and another who is a naive virgin. They are cared for by their cross-dressing father-come-mother who is forced to sell them at auction to pay off the mortgage on their farm.

The performances were generally high quality, if somewhat uneven. The actor playing the resident villain and bank employee stood above the rest with outstanding physicality, and a smarmy charm that was perfect for his character. The three sisters seemed less experienced, though there was no real weak link in the show.

The entire play is accompanied live by a very talented pianist (the dark lord of the keyboard, as they refer to him), and a good part of the script is sung... if somewhat off-key.

As a whole, the play is a fun interpretation of the original Chekov play, though the macabre nature of the show veers dangerously toward sophmoric humour, as a whole, this play is definitely worth seeing.

Show Title: Three Sisters: A Black Opera in Three Acts
Venue: Academic Hall
Genre: Black Comedy
Suggested Age Group: 19+
Run Time: 90 mins
Audience Advisory: Adult Themes/Nudity
Admission Price: $8

Synopsis:
Collaborative director Karen Hines calls this "a little Chekhovian freak show on the prairie." A high camp opera of the grotesque, this is a prairie gothic remake that Chekhov could never have envisioned. Featuring rump roast, live facelifts and the sweet sounds of the accordion. Vegetarians beware!

Showtimes:
Fri. June 17 (23h00), Sat. June 18 (13h30), Sun. June 19 (19h30), Tue. June 21 (17h30), Fri. June 24 (21h30), Sat. June 25 17h30

El Fringe-o Grande

So I'm judging the Fringe Festival. Don't get me wrong, I would have anyway, but someone is actually going to listen to me this time.

As such, I'm going to post all of my reviews here. If you're interested, stay
tuned, and hear my few-times-daily rantings about the Fringe Festival goings-on.