Montreal Fringe Festival Reviews Round 5: Le Petit Prince Selon Machiavel, Le Divan, Wolves > Boys, Chamber Music, Dr. Sketchy

Montreal Fringe Festival Calendar. Montreal Fringe Festival Calendar.

When the Inmates Run the Asylum

The list reads almost like a feminist’s answer to the question, “Who would you most want to spend dinner with in history?” In Chamber Music, Gertrude Stein, Jean d’Arc, Amelia Earhart, Susan B. Anthony, Mrs. Constanze Mozart, actress Pearl White, Queen Isabella of Spain, and explorer Osa Johnson gather together to make recommendations to those in charge. Only, instead of taking place at a dinner table or a boardroom, this meeting is in an asylum. As for the famous women — they are the delusional identities of the gathered group, save for Amelia Earhart whose date of disappearance and story suggest that she is there accidentally. At any rate, the president of the assembly, Susan B. Anthony beleives the men’s ward is about to attack and a solution needed stat. Although billed as a dark comedy, and the play has plenty of laughs, the show addresses many serious issues about the weaker members of society (women, the mentally ill, the defenseless), as well as oppressive situations that lead to cruelty. Even the oppressed can be oppressors. Chamber Music is very much in the same vein as the Lottery or Lord of the Flies. We Are One theatre company does a wonderful job with this character-rich play, especially in creating the tensions between individuals. Jean d’Arc and Gertrude Stein sing cruel ditties about each other “Jean d’Arc, died in the dark.” “Gertrude Stein is not fine.” Osa Johnson is constantly looking for a fight, while Mrs. Mozart is constantly trying to stop one. Queen Isabella’s reticent and nervous outward aspect conceals her analysis of Christopher Columbus’ stupidity. The women try to seize whatever small shreds of power they can, whether it consists of reading out the meeting’s minutes or listing the complaints registered since the last meeting. Overall, solid acting and great staging makes this wonderfully scripted show come alive. This youthful, ensemble cast makes beautiful music together. Rachel Levine

Boys will be Boys

Wolves > Boys

Wolves > Boys

Italo Calvino’s if on a winter’s night a traveller… restarts again and again, telling different stories inside of a frame story. Wolves > Boys nests story inside story inside story, as two friends try to hash out the events of their shared past. Isaac and Lawrence were/are best friends with a long history that entails telling stories about ghost wolves. However, when Lawrence gets involved in a long term relationship, the two grow apart. This show looks at the moment of their reconciliation (or non-reconciliation), depending. The two actors develop highly believable characters. Isaac is a headstrong alpha male, who uses his physicality and bravado to dominate. Lawrence is softer, more emotional, and yielding, but not a push-over. These characters are so distinct that there are times when Isaac plays Lawrence (and vice versa), capturing even the facial tics and mannerisms of the other. The show has a clever way of packing the different stories together, making use of light to indicate what story is being told. There are moments of total lunacy and others that capture men and the relationships between men with razor-edged accuracy. Wolves > Boys is a heartfelt exploration of masculinity. Well worth seeing! Rachel Levine

 

Better to Be Feared Than Loved

Le Petit Prince selon Machiavel by Les Parents Terribles was a side-splittingly hilarious interpretation of the classic story of the prince who wanders the galaxy and discovers True Things, as told by Machiavelli. It captured both the tart whimsy of The Little Prince and the disturbing sensibleness of Machiavelli’s The Prince. The actors were centered and charismatic. They each played more than one character, and they threw themselves into the physical dimension of each one, wearing the gaudy outfits and accents with selfless abandon. Rather than pacing back and forth in contrived patterns to try to cover the breadth of the stage, they allowed their characters to swell, filling the space. The play resonated in dark places, but it was not intrinsically a dark comedy. Thus, it stayed faithful to Machiavelli’s morbidly pragmatic philosophy, without straying into the dramatically sadistic. It knew exactly what it wanted to be – where it wanted to be obvious, and where it wanted to be subtle. Le Petit Prince selon Machiavel was a wonderful play. Even as it delights the inner child, it disturbs in deeper places. Lyla McQueen Shah

Absurdist with Cats

Le Divan by Les Productions Lounge was without a doubt the strangest Fringe show I’ve seen thus far. It follows the everyday life of a cohabitating couple. There are also two characters that seem to exist in the same space as the couple, that the couple doesn’t notice – ninjas of the fourth wall? I don’t know, the concept was a little over my head. This was by far the most awkward play I have seen in the Fringe. Barely any of the jokes worked at all – in fact, some of the weirder ones (throwing a cat out a window, letting an old man run against a wall until he falls unconscious) made me downright uncomfortable. The integration of music was ungainly. The couple was a tired romantic comedy cliché. Yet, its disjointedness was also fascinating, like an awkward silence that everyone is too mesmerized by to break. I’m not sure what Le Divan was about. The grittiness of the mundane and the surreal oddness were an interesting combo. The result was hypnotizing, but, for me, anyways, not particularly memorable. Lyla McQueen Shah

 

Photolog: Dr. Sketchy in the Fringe Park

Dr. Sketchy in Park. Lady Josephine.

Dr. Sketchy in Park. Lady Josephine.

Dr. Sketchy in Park

Dr. Sketchy in Park

Dr. Sketchy in Park

Dr. Sketchy in Park

Dr. Sketchy in Park. Lady Josephine.

Dr. Sketchy in Park. Lady Josephine.

Montreal Fringe Festival runs until June 22. For schedule and show, click HERE. Check out our reviews Round 1, Round 2, Round 3, and Round 4.

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