Montreal Fringe Festival Capsule Reviews # 3 : Three Great Shows
The Morning After the Life Before
In the tradition of Some Like it Hot and Kissing Jessica Stein, The Morning After the Life Before’s heterosexual narrator, Ann Blake, discovers that her soul mate is of the same sex. Open minded, but born into a traditional Irish family and heterosexual up until the day she meets Jenny, Ann struggles to identify as a homosexual. Holding hands in public, coming out, and answering questions about who “wears the pants,” are just the beginning of her journey. While the most immediate fights she faces are over taking out the trash bins, the biggest one is with her religious family and country over the referendum to support homosexual marriage equality in Ireland. Ann Blake and her acting partner (not life partner) Lucia Smyth are fantastic in this polished piece. They’re also very “Irish” — singers, storytellers, down-to-earth, and open. The subject matter could have been botched so easily, drifting into sentimentality or rage, but this show always managed to stay at perfect pitch. Funny, warm, funny, intimate, this charming show is a celebration of what it means to be yourself and a great demonstration where the political becomes personal. Do not miss.
No blarney at The Morning After the Life Before at Black Theatre Workshop Studio (3680 Jeanne Mance) on June 12 (18:00), 13 (21:30), 14 (23:30), 15 (19:30), 16 (20:45), and 17 (17:30).
The Detective, The Dame, and the Devil
With one of the best performances at the Fringe for All, I was delighted to see that this show lived up to its promise. The same story is told through the lens of three characters, the Detective Acey Spadesy, the Dame Scarlett Ruby, and the Devil Mr. Ruby. It’s a brilliant trick that lets us see how each character interprets the others, but also serves to evolve the narrative about a “stolen” family heirloom, the McGuffin statuette, and a double/triple-cross. Familiar tropes like the hard-boiled detective are masterfully transformed into laser-sharp comedy. Scott Humphrey’s script (it took me forever to place him, but he’s from the hit webcast LARPs) flies almost too quickly for its trove of puns, “lousy” metaphors, and Bard-worthy word play. The actors (including Humphrey himself as The Detective) make every detail work, every moment precisely timed. Elizabeth Neale is smoking as The Dame, and Adam Capriolo’s pan-European “devil” is unmatchable. Another do not miss. Comedy at its best.
Shoot yourself over to The Detective, The Dame, and The Devil at La Chapelle (3700 St. Domnique) on June 14 (22:00), 16 (20:00), and 17 (17:15).
This Is Not She
As an educator, shows about the experiences of teachers make me uncomfortable either for being too real or not real enough. Julia Haist captures an all-too familiar feeling of having to be professional while dealing with a personal problem simultaneously. Teachers have to perform in front of a tough audience every day no matter what, and sometimes the subject matter taught hits close to home. Ms. Humber-Lee is teaching her high school class (the audience) Shakespeare’s Troilus and Cressida, a play about the Trojan War. As Ms. Lee-Humbert reviews things like the plot, the prologue, and iambic pentameter, she starts to unravel. Her husband, Mr. Humbert is missing and perhaps not the person she thinks he is. Haist is great as the conflicted teacher who tries to balance what she feels inside with what she shows her class. While the pace of the show seems fine and the tension built well, the timeline was confusing. It seems as if we are experiencing a single day of class, and Ms. Lee-Humbert reflects on events that have already happened. However, sometimes, it seems as if we were experiencing different moments in one semester. Also, Mr. Humbert’s actions (albeit ambiguous) and Ms. Lee-Humbert’s breakdown do not necessarily seem proportionate. Overall, though, this is a smart piece and its interactive components as well as the character created make for a compelling theatrical experience.
Find out if art imitates life all too well at This Is Not She at Black Theatre Workshop Studio (3680 Jeanne Mance) on June 14 (18:15), 17 (21:00), and 18 (15:15).
The Montreal Fringe Festival continues until June 18. You can get tickets for all shows HERE. Most shows are $10. Click here for reviews of Fringe shows Whip, 0 Days Without Crying, tldr;smh, A Change in the Weather, Elsewhere, Peter Pansexual, Oscar, CarMa, Illustrated Lady, Leave the Therapy Take the Cannoli, and Things Drugs Taught Me.