Sex? But I’m Canadian.
It’s impolite to speak ill of the dead, but I’ve been hating on Stuart McLean’s Vinyl Café since the first day I had the misfortune to hear about the loopy adventures of decent Dave and his long-suffering wife Morley. One very clever comedian (Dave Hemstead, I believe) has a schtick on how McLean constructs every sentence of these short phraselets around hair ripping pauses. Discovering that there was someone else out there who found the show insufferable felt like I’d found a public radio soul mate. The near-sold-out audience at Sex? But I’m Canadian confirms that haters of Dave and Morley and the goddamned record shop are legion.
The show is an easy sell on the premise alone. The Vinyl Café goes XXX? Pornography as only Canadians can do it? I’m sorry, but yes, please.
Nico Dicecco and Kyle Carpenter’s show consists of three stories that are as Canadian as Pornhub and Cronenburg’s Crash. The names have been changed to protect the innocent. The innocent really need a dose of this show. It is very funny. Very, very funny. I can’t imagine how many hours of the Vinyl Café were listened to in order to find phrases that are just a fiftieth of a shade of grey off the original. It’s a heroic effort in my book and merits special commendation. It also gives a fairly convincing explanation for what keeps the radio duo together and you will understand why everyone has buttons that say “Ice cream is a metaphor.”
As a warning, Dicecco captures the voice, intonation and rhythm of McLean perfectly. If the sound of Stuart McLean’s voice makes you want to inflict self-harm, handcuff yourself to the seat ahead of time so you don’t do damage.
Stories about Love, Death, & a Rabbit
Meet Samantha Mann. She’s perpetually and perhaps self-inflictedly single, lives in Kensington (a rather posh area), and considers it too risqué to dance with her French language partner. Tonight, Ms. Mann is pushing the boat out by putting on a spoken-word poetry Fringe show. Unfortunately, she’s nervous and nattery, which results in a tragicomic reveal of her personality and its limitations.
Ms. Mann is easy to like, but it’s also easy to see why her life is so confined. She has no problem with self-deprecation and her comfort zone is rather narrow. Taking care of her best friend’s rabbit is a stress, bringing back memories of inadequate Kindergarten hamster care. Flirting causes her to retreat. Is it her background? Her experiences? Her sense of propriety? There are tantalizing hints to the causes of her limitations throughout and she grows in degrees.
This sensitive show is a study of loneliness and human disconnect without ever being moribund. I enjoy character driven shows where the personality of the narrator is the show, and we see this person at a critical juncture in his or her life. The dramatic moment isn’t epic, but it is to the person in question. Shows like this are good art. They remind us that everyone matters, and that the universe would be less without any one of us.
Charles Adrian is perfect as Samantha Mann with her particular mannerisms. What looks like a slip up or a failure is actually very deliberate. His ability to embody this character at a deep, emotional level is acting at its finest and most precise. Overall, the show that has a meta-feel to it that adds a level of depth, but also gives a chance for the show to feel more urgent.
This is another not-miss show for this year’s Fringe. Michael Burgos takes on the role of six “individuals” who speak at the funeral of Thomas, a fat man who doesn’t seem to need enemies given the parting words delivered by his friends. Roommates speak of his slovenly habits and great love of fried eggs (clearly the whole keto diet came into vogue after the show was written). Another friend is putting the moves on the new widow. Characters bleed from one into the next, with distinct accents and gestures to mark the change. This high-energy performance is wildly creative and the set-ups for the jokes are done with an eye on the long game. While every character is distinct, this show’s greatest strength is the warmth and rapport that Burgos maintains with the audience. One truly feels his goodwill towards those who have come, and he is fearless in interacting with whatever is thrown his way.
Sex But I’m Canadian, Stories About Love, Death, & a Rabbit, and The Eulogy continues through June 17 as part of the St. Ambroise Montreal FRINGE Festival. Find out all shows and info at montrealfringe.ca. Montreal Rampage coverage of the Fringe Festival includes reviews of The Autism Monlogues, Greasy, Dance Side of the Moon, Buyer and Cellar, Lucky, Don’t Read the Comments,Crime After Crime (After Crime), Is that How Clowns Have Sex?, SCUM FM, Jellyfish are Immortal, Naked Ugly Dancing, and Rootless Tree.