Double Ingrid Hansen. Is that like Wrigly’s Doublemint gum? You know, double your fun? It feels more exponential than that, like quadruple the creativity, square the talent… Anyway, back to back, she performed first as an astronaut (of sorts), then as part of a sisterly duo (of sorts). Both shows were physical with high energy and tremendous demonstration of creative genius. While both shows are very funny, they are never dumb and have considerable pathos.
It isn’t necessary to have met precocious kindergarten hero Kitt from Little Orange Man or its sequel, Kitt and Jane to launch into Interstellar Elder. In this brilliant piece, Kitt is aboard a spaceship containing cryogenically frozen humans. The earth has been rendered uninhabitable by Swiss chard (yes, the plant), and the frozen humans await in deep freeze for the planet to become a viable place to live again. 27-year-old Kitt is unfrozen to serve as a sleep custodian, a job that requires her to care for the other humans and collect space garbage to use for fuel. Although lonely, craving affection and anything related to humanity, she performs her tasks dutifully for 60 years, but the earth seems no closer to becoming a viable human home again. On her birthday, Kitt learns the ugly truth about the future that awaits her and perhaps all those aboard the ship. Like Little Orange Man, the show makes the audience an integral part of the show; we are the cryogenically cargo that Kitt protects. As the show twists and turns in unexpected ways, Hansen manages to employ our participation right up until the end of the show and it takes us to a place never imagined. Trust me on this. Hansen not only succeeds into giving life to oddball Kitt, a lovable weirdo, but also has a way of using just a few props, often made from identifiable items, to construct an entire environment. Best show of the Fringe? Perhaps mine. I still have a few days. It is certainly the most epic and one of the most humane.
Interstellar Elder is at La Chapelle Theatre (3700 St. Dominique) June 14 (6 p.m.), 15 (17:45), 17 (20:45), and 18 (17:00).
The Merkin Sisters
Les Bunheads refreshed the concept of the competitive yet cooperative female performing duo as comedy. The Merkin Sisters takes this to a whole new level with two “sisters” (Ingrid Hansen and Stephanie Morin-Robert) who may or may not be contemporary dancers. Think Vaudeville. The two arrive in bathing suits and proceed in a synchronized dance rivalry that eventually has Hansen stepping into the arms of a pink colored sweater with a neck hole that hangs in a way that can best be as labial. It’s not accidental. Hansen’s mad puppetry skills bring the gaping gap to life as a baby glove is birthed. When they arrive wearing full body wigs, the hairiest production I’ve ever seen starts — and I’ve seen the musical Hair many times! Great vagina jokes show dick jokes for the flaccid stubs they are. Anyone with a member want to take up that challenge? Hansen and Morin-Roberts are fearless in taking this show to places that are wild and unimaginable, but piss-your-pants funny. The woman beside me was orgasming with laughter. What I also appreciate is the freedom the two have in using their full bodies, the avoidance of politicizing or moralizing, and the audacity of what they dream up. When two top performers get together and give it their all, the result is a must-see show at the fringe.
The Merkin Sisters is at La Chapelle (3700 St. Dominique) on June 15 (19:45), 16 (16:45), 17 (19:00), 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 Jon Bennett vs Jason Donovan, Ain’t That Rich, Invasive Species, Berlin Waltz, Pluck’d, Precinct: an Improvised Cop Story, Orson Wells/Shylock, The Ballad of Frank Allen, The Morning After the Life Before, The Detective The Dame and the Devil, This is Not She, 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.