Fringe Reviews # 9 : Dramaking, No Bull$#!% History, and More

Kyle Allatt. The No Bull$#!% History of Invention. Fringe for All 2016. Photo Rachel Levine Kyle Allatt. The No Bull$#!% History of Invention. Fringe for All 2016. Photo Rachel Levine

Dramaking

Dramaking is presented by two comics, who in their early twenties confront those existential choices of what they wish to do in their lives. Surrounded by these life altering questions of what they want, their ambition, youth and just the desire to live, we follow them in pursuit of their dreams. The performance starts with the question of what needs to be “said”. And, is it just to an audience or to the world at large? Dabbling through the meandering world of words, trying to figure out what needs to be said, they stumble upon the realization that “US” and “them”, haven’t been spoken about. This realization means that the world is an oyster and possibilities are endless. Étienne La Frenière and Victor Choinière-Champigny speak of what is waiting to be brought out to the world both autobiographically in some parts and random unchecked thoughts in others. From dreams, to fears and fantasies, disillusionment, sadness and the greatest joys, this roller coaster is meant to give insight into what goes on inside an artist who is at the brink of beginning life and where youthful rebellion seems like the only option.Dramaking is quite appropriately self-identified as the cry of the twenties. — Sinj Karan

Dramaking played at Salle Jean-Claude-Germain du Théâtre d’Aujourd’hui (3900 Saint-Denis). Info HERE.

The No Bull$#!% History of Invention

Kyle Allatt. The No Bull$#!% History of Invention. Fringe for All 2016. Photo Rachel Levine

Kyle Allatt. The No Bull$#!% History of Invention. Fringe for All 2016. Photo Rachel Levine

Arts meet science in the No Bullshit History of Invention, a piece that exists at the crossroads between Fringe show and Ted Talk. Kyle Allatt breathes new life into the medium of the Powerpoint presentation, and with his sidekick, Tupper the history beaver, he gives a fun, eclectic and informative countdown of history’s most interesting inventions and the eccentric characters who invented them. Allatt mixes important information with curiosities and anecdotes (for example, did you know that the inventor of the bra changed her name to Caresse, and called her dog Clitoris? Her whippet, Clitoris, in fact? I certainly didn’t – thank you, Kyle Allatt). At times, Allatt does keep things a little too light – a joke less, or a diagram or scientific explanation more, would not have left the audience too out of their depths, I’m sure. Balancing information and entertainment is challenging, and Allatt may have come down a little too heavily on the entertainment side, when his show had the potential to offer more substance. Allatt wields the remote to the Powerpoint with the confidence, relish and pizazz of a baton-twirler wielding their baton. The remote is an extension of his arm, and the Powerpoint is a part of his very being. Despite the simplicity of the show, Allat’s perfect timing and polished performance were what made The History of Invention truly impressive. Props, costumes, and stage magic are all very nice, but they drag the overall quality of the show down if they are not integrated and performed properly, whereas something as simple as a well-made Powerpoint that synchronizes perfectly with a presentation becomes rather magical if it’s flawlessly executed. I wound up in The No Bullshit History of Invention by accident, but I’m so glad that I did. Allatt knows exactly what he came here to do, and he does it absolutely perfectly. — Lyla McQueen Shah

The No Bull$#!% History of Invention is at the Theatre St. Catherine (264 St Catherine E) on June 19 at noon. Tickets Here.

A Perfect Picture

A Perfect Picture. Fringe For All 2016. Photo Rachel Levine

A Perfect Picture. Fringe For All 2016. Photo Rachel Levine

A Perfect Picture is the story of Kevin Carter, the man who took the Pulitzer prize-winning photograph of a vulture and a little girl during the famine in Sudan. Laurent McCuaig-Pitre, the writer and actor in this one-man show, is the perfect stand-in for Aaron Carter, with similar boyish looks and haunted eyes. Though the writing was somewhat immature, McCuaig-Pitre made up for this with a performance that was at times harrowing and at times darkly comedic. A Perfect Picture was technically minimalistic, yet satisfying. The set consisted of two chairs, and the only costume change was putting on and removing a ratty cloak. The soundscape was particularly impressive. The timing was perfect as it was woven in with the show. However, some kind of visuals would have been helpful. Although the picture of vulture and the girl is in the show program, it’s of such importance to the play that it seems foolish not to integrate it somehow. A Perfect Picture did not offer a solution, or call the audience to action. It did not condemn or exonerate Kevin Carter and other war photographers like him. It just told Carter’s story, with its complicated morality, conflicting motivations, and shifting realities. Before seeing this show, I, like so many others, had indeed seen the picture of the vulture and the little girl, but only because it was making the rounds on Facebook. I had no idea of the context or reality behind it. A Perfect Picture was a chance to be educated, challenged, and to examine my own lack of empathy, scrolling past such a disturbing picture with barely a second glance. — Lyla McQueen Shah

A Perfect Picture was at the MAI. Info HERE.

Mutement

Mutement was a multimedia puppet show with a lot of good ideas, but some poor choices when it came to execution. Mutement is worth seeing if only to get a good look at set, puppet and costume design. The screen onto which Puppet Sam’s thoughts are projected is a very clever device, and is really explored to its full potential. Sounds and visuals come together in this unique mix of puppetry and technology. The puppets themselves are also very cool – a mix between a grungy post-apocalyptic look and a more traditional muppet-y style. However, due to the puppet’s dark coloring, the bright lights of the stage shining on the puppeteers’ own expressive faces made it hard to focus on the puppets’ faces rather than the performers’. The audience participation aspect of Mutement was what really dragged the show down. The puppets conducted shrill interactions with the audience from the get-go, expecting us all to just jump on the bandwagon. Audience participation should be earned – an audience should be put at ease, seduced into the show until the gap between stage and seats becomes unimportant, and interacting with performers seems so natural, it’s automatic. It shouldn’t be shrilly demanded. For a large chunk of the show, the puppets interacted with audience members in the front row, leaving everyone else feeling alienated and unsure of what exactly was going on. The audience members being put on the spot worked hard to come up with witty responses to questions in gibberish or follow along to dance moves the puppets demanded they imitate, but frankly, I didn’t come to a show to watch unprepared audience members try desperately to be entertaining at the drop of a hat. Mutement has a lot of potential, but it needed some extra work and an eye to detail to really bring it home. It does, however, succeed in exploring some really interesting ways that puppets and technology can come together – it works more as an experiment than as an actual performance. — Lyla McQueen Shah

Mutement plays June 19 at 8 p.m. at Salle Pauline McGibbon (5030 rue St-Denis). Tickets HERE.

Rocket to Fame

I didn’t know what to expect walking into this one, other than that a number of the actors appear in some Toronto sketch comedy/improv groups and The Second City sort of thing. Their cryptic description “Five strangers sought refuge from reality and found themselves woven together by destiny” isn’t saying much. They opened with an outstanding musical number — in harmony and beautifully choreographed — about reaching “adulthood.” Impressive. I then waited for a show that would then build on this particular theme. An updated version of Friends? My So Called Life? Well, none of the above, actually. Rocket to Fame is a series of sketches that include contemporary Barbies, a couple that meets on Tindr for a “casual” hookup, and a semi-improvised audience participation sketch that features the music of Motley Crue. The sketches are the ideal length (= never too long) and make great use of the actors’ physicality. The characters constructed are distinct and the actors wisely carry their character with them as they head off the stage, giving the whole thing a polished feel. While there’s no real cohesion to the collection of sketches, except perhaps a pair of chairs, they are share a similar au courant, high energy feel. — Rachel Levine


Rocket to Fame is at Petit Campus (57 Prince Arthur E) on June 19 at 3:30 p.m. Tickets HERE. $12.

Juniper

The greatest production of all for the Montreal Rampage team has taken place this week with the birth of Juniper, who arrive a few days early. Congratulations to Lyla who not only gave birth but turned in her reviews too!

The Montreal St. Ambroise Fringe Festival wraps up on June 19. Website HERE.

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