Fringe Festival : The Lady and the Leg and Part I

Ice Pops at the Montreal Fringe for All. Ice Pops at the Montreal Fringe for All.

Spirited Andrea Swallow and the Leg

Andrea Swallow brings in perfect Fringe style a solo performance with some intrigue and mostly humoring banter. We meet Cordelia and Carson who have invited everyone to celebrate Cordelia’s grand achievement of having learnt to play the piano for two full weeks. This is the latest of her ‘fads’ that her husband entertains. We get to know that she has moved from ballet to pottery to now the piano. The husband is in the background mulling over his various failed business enterprises and it seems he compensates for his competence at business and personal relationships by buying his wife expansive presents (cars, boats, and the like).

The perfect sidekick is Henry the Butler who serves as Cordelia’s easy ‘go to person’ and Caron’s departure means that Andrea gets to show off her true love, a (mannequin) leg. Andrea employs both improv and putting questions to the audience to manage a rather engaging performance. The fact that she decided to celebrate a piano recital was an audience suggestion from the outset.

Mid-point and Cordelia finds that Carson has been murdered and she opines that the suspect is someone in the audience. This starts the process of interrogating the unsuspecting suspect picked from the audience. The suspect goes off stage to be ‘preped’ for the interrogation. The audience member seems to be put on the spot (literally) and thus the performance wobbles a little bit as Andrea tries to extract a confession.

How did Carson die if the audience member is really the culprit as is disclosed in the end? Does Andrea seek to forgive and forget? The upside to it all is that the improv serves the audience an intriguing murder mystery every single show, with the leg as the only constant.

This was a fun spirited performance with little inhibition and lots of heart.

The Lady and the Leg is playing at the Fringe Fest through to the 18 June at the perfect summer terrace setting of Eva B @2015 Saint-Laurent, Montréal, Quebec, Canada, H2X 2T3. June 15 at 6 p.m., June 16 at 6 p.m., June 17 at 6 p.m., June 18 at 2 p.m., June 18 at 6 p.m. $12/10. Tickets HERE.

PART I : You are certainly not alone

Part I presented by Project X Performance is a piece by four artists: Jacquline van der Geer, Lyne Labrie, Ilana Zackon and Mercedeh Baroque.

This is a unique piece that attempts to use art therapy to speak to mental illness and all the challenges that come with. Each performer brings their own experience of mental illness from depression to an eating disorder, from traumas of emotionally abusive relationships to just a complete lack of self.

Each of the four performers take turns to be center stage to tell their story of trauma, struggle, silent suffering, nights of fog and grey, and to provide written depictions of the things that have fucked them the most (the most interesting one).

With interesting use of lighting and stunning sound design by local artist Joe Browne that haunts and stirs both at the same time, this piece was put together by endless rehearsals over a period of one month. The marathon preparation aside, the show stirred me to reflect on people around me who are suffering, mostly silently, and how mental illness requires us to reach out to everyone and help cope.

This presentation was done in collaboration and support with Expression Lasalle, an organization that works with using the tools of art therapy to help people suffering from mental illness. At the post-show talk back, a representative from the organization spoke about services and resources they offer.

With the world suffering from a plethora of challenges, mental illness needs more talk time and more attention and any small effort to do so, is creditable and welcome. The show left me with thoughts of silence, sadness, quiet suffering, lack of hope, light at the end of the tunnel, some hope, shared healing, reaching out for help and essentially being able to be.

This show is playing at Studio Bliss: 3845 Saint-Laurent, Montréal, Quebec, Canada, H2W 1X9. $12. June 11, 12, 13, 17, 18, and 19 at 8 p.m.

The Montreal Fringe Festival continues until June 22. Details HERE.