Montreal Fringe Festival Reviews # 7 : Alright Solving the Problem of Living, Keep Me (at the) Close, Rob Teszka: Magic Dropout

3 people on stage Rob Teszka Magic Dropout's PhD Defense. Photo Rachel Levine

Alright, Solving the Problem of Living

Although she says she suffers from anxiety and depression, Nisha Coleman says yes to a lot of things. She has more adventures than most. Beyond this, Coleman doesn’t stash her highs and lows but opens up about the most painful parts of her life with us. The painful… but also the joyful and expansive.

In her current show, Nisha addresses the theme of suicide and suicidal ideation. Three of the stories she brings up address the issue and handle it with sensitivity and veracity. Coleman doesn’t back away from the details of her experiences, but delivers her stories with her signature timelessly wise outlook, clever insight, and off-the-cuff humour.

While the theme is serious and Coleman’s treatment of it is graceful, this is not a depressing show. Coleman surrounds these three main stories with some others that offer a vaccination against life’s vicissitudes. As she wraps up, the stories she shares come together in observations that try to answer the question: In the face of it all, why live and how?

Coleman’s voice is distinct and humane. Attend and leave broadened in unexpected ways.

Alright Solving the Problem of LIving is at the Montreal Comedy Theatre on June 16 (20:45), 17 (22:45). Tickets available HERE.

Rob Teszka : Magic Dropout

Rob could be leading a very different life. A top science student in the province, he pursued studies in science and then psychology, eventually ending up in a PhD program. But Teszka didn’t stick with the gruelling and snobbishly closed world. He, as the show’s title suggests, drops out. However, he learned a lot in his career from keen high school student student to his eventual job as a magician, which he showcases in this audience-participatory show. In a series of psychologically based magic tricks, he recreates moments of his journey, his thesis defence, a delivery of a slide show presentation, and even some psych experiments. The theme brings together the different tricks in a cohesive way. The audience participation absolutely makes the show and all participants walk away with their very own badge of honour or shame, depending on how you’d like to see it.

Rob Teszka Magic Dropout is at Le Ministère on June 16 (23:00) and 17 (23:00). Tickets HERE.

Keep Me (at the) Close

Two women dance face to face, body against body. One barely moves, while the other manipulates the arms and hands of her partner as if animating someone whose vibrancy has dimmed and capacity for movement has diminished. Since the theme of this work is memory, it reminded me of the fleeting nature of memory, how difficult and desperate and also comforting it is to recall someone is either absent, if not physically then mentally. There is loss, but we also want to take what remains in whatever form it is and savour it.

Through the rest of the piece, six diverse women roll, handstand, and trust fall in fluid dances about memory, beginnings, and endings. One focuses on a game of red light green light. Others focus on more abstract seeming concepts, family or friendship. Included in the piece is a reading and re-enactment of audience memories through dance. It’s a celebration of life from its earliest beginnings to its existence only in the mind of another. What I liked most about this piece is seeing that age really is just a number – the dancers represented a range of ages, but all highly skilled and though they worked as a company, each has their own signature style which was retained.

Keep Me (at the Close) is at La Chapelle on June 15 (18:15), 16 (19:00), and 17 (16:30). Tickets HERE.

The Montreal Fringe Festival continues until June 18. Tickets for all shows available HERE.

Check out our list of Fringe Festival Picks and reviews of Leila Roils the Seas, Tango in the DarkHeartBeastLungsPersonal/Universal, CaughtWho, Me?,  Field Zoology 101I Know You Are But What Am IExit 20:20, CivilizedLush WanderingsA Mystic’s Journey, and Tales of the Rise of the Fallen.

About Rachel Levine

Rachel Levine is the big cheese around here. Contact: Website | More Posts