The Princess Show

13939521_10104028841870687_222055255232282359_nAngels and Heroes and Theatre Outré’s multimedia musical The Princess Show, which plays now until September 11 as part of the Atlantic Fringe Festival, is a beautifully theatrical parable about the power of the self to empower, create, and also to destroy.

Using conventions from the world of anime and the world of camp creators Aaron Collier, Richie Wilcox and Deonie Hudson give us a strange new world for characters Princess Edward (Collier) and her boyfriend Abel (Wilcox) in a piece that is part theatre, part television, part Performance Art. As in children’s cartoons The Princess Show hinges on its protagonist’s need to go on a quest, to defeat a beast and to learn a lesson. The dialogue primarily services the plot, telling the audience information they need to know rather than worrying too much about being “realistic,” the movement is stylized with incredibly strong specificity, and Collier and Wilcox lip synch all their lines over their own pre-recorded voices. All of this creates a bit of Alienation Effect, but the cartoon imagery they are playing with that many of us associate with our childhoods also creates a striking sense of familiarity. We already know how to connect to Princess Edward and Abel because this type of parable is one we have grown up with. It’s not even surprising at the end when the moral is clearly defined for us.

It’s interesting that the most ardent way the audience connects with Princess Edward and Abel is through their movement, especially in dance and during Princess Edward’s lip synched performances. It is also interesting that, unlike in anime, Collier and Wilcox’s lip synching is perfectly timed to their recorded lines. Collier has some powerhouse performance moments where the lip synching reaches truly phenomenal heights. Indeed, there are many layers of performativity at play with these characters, in performing gender, performing as an artist, performing in society, and performing our various incarnations of self. This innate playfulness allows Collier and Wilcox to make large leaps of creative faith and to trust that the audience will leap with them.

The projected set, which includes some characters in Claymation, along with Collier’s original music, does a great job of creating Princess Edward’s futuristic world. Visually, Collier is aptly regal in an array of fanciful outfits, while Wilcox captures the parable theme vividly, looking like a sort of Hipster Geppetto from Pinocchio.

In all, The Princess Show is a very strongly performed, intelligent and theatrical parable for adults told using a creative use of a mixture of media conventions, and pulls everything together into an interesting and cohesive whole.

Theatre Outré and Angels & Heroes Theatre present:

THE PRINCESS SHOW

By Aaron Collier, Richie Wilcox, and Deonie Hudson

Multimedia-Musical – Parental Guidance

60 min – $11.00

The Bus Stop Theatre

Part of The Atlantic Fringe Festival 2016

The Bus Stop Theatre

Thursday Sept 1st, 9:40PM

Saturday Sept 3rd, 7:00PM

Monday Sept 5th, 9:40PM

Tuesday Sept 6th, 11:00PM (Volunteer Appreciation Performance!)

Thursday Sept 8th, 8:30PM

Saturday Sept 10th, 1:30PM

Sunday Sept 11th, 4:10PM

The Story of A Sinking Man

11825075_10155894771740416_16364531585806115_nAndrew Chandler gives a virtuosic performance in the solo show The Story of A Sinking Man (1994) by Morris Panych at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic as part of the Atlantic Fringe Festival.

Nash is in trouble. He is stuck in a puddle of quicksand, alone except for birds and insects, and he has realized that he is sinking down into it. This is a beautifully constructed monologue by Panych, filled with his signature Absurdism and dark humour, that comments, subtly, about metaphoric sinking while playfully exploring literal sinking.

Chandler’s comic timing here is precise and sharp and he manages to walk the fine line between creating a character that is engaging to the audience and allowing Brechtian distance as to not turn the play into a tragedy. He also creates an especially fun character in Gustav, sort of Pessimism Personified, with great physicality and vocal work. Director Dorian Lang makes great use of light, darkness, silence, and keeps the play moving with perfect pacing. We get a clear sense of time passing, and how time is intrinsic to the play’s mounting tension.   

This play is a Fringe gem. Go see it.

Salt Water Moon

11222078_10153269252094865_4328995617480639204_nI was extremely impressed by Sackville Student Theatre’s beautiful production of David French’s play Salt Water Moon (1985), which plays at the Living Room as part of the Atlantic Fringe Festival.

Set in rural Newfoundland in 1926, the play tells the story of two teenagers, Jacob and Mary, whose relationship was thwarted when Jacob left unexpectedly for Toronto. Now he has returned to find her engaged to a man he loathes and must attempt to win her back. Mary is a bitter, and practical, spitfire played by Sally Faulkner with grit, strength and intense subtly. Alex McGrath’s Jacob is charming and quick-witted, but with deep roots in his community and loyalty to his values.

Salt Water Moon is a somber piece that explores poverty and the question of whether financial security or matters of heart are more prudent ways of life. This production never descends into melodrama, maintains a captivating sense of tension and makes good use of silence; it wisely doesn’t bog itself down with attempts at accents, and the performances are nuanced and deeply felt.

If you’re looking for an evening of drama this Fringe, I highly recommend you see Salt Water Moon. These students have bright futures ahead of them.   

Salt Water Moon plays at the Living Room (2353 Agricola Street) at the following times:

Friday, September 11th at 7:50

You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown

11224720_10153519593850792_7327743942089334355_nYou’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown (1967) is a musical adaptation of Charles Schultz’s comic strip that beautifully captures both the humour and the heart of these beloved characters. The Side-By-Side production of this musical, which plays at the Bus Stop Theatre as part of the Atlantic Fringe Festival, is joyful and heartwarming and showcases real musical theatre talent in this city. 

Anders Balderston plays Charlie Brown with beautiful earnestness, oscillating from pure hope to vulnerable heartbreak. Becca Guilderson shines brightly as Sally Brown, capturing with gusto and hilarity the erratic emotions of preschoolers. Marietta Laan nails Lucy’s renowned crabbiness, but is best in the moments where she finds her nuance and humanity. Cat McCluskey brings Snoopy to life with panache and silliness. Dylan Coutts has great musicality as Schroeder and absolutely captures his ego, while Stephen Lando Lahaie brings great sweetness to Linus. Both have room here to play more with their characters being kids and allowing them more moments in which they can let go and have fun. 

The show’s greatest moments are when every moment is milked for its ultimate in playfulness and there is an equal balance between the characters’ roles as Philosopher and Child. The direction by Guilderson has a nice sense of arc and concept. A lot is directed immediately to the audience, which can be great for engaging the kids (and big kids) watching, but there’s room here to develop the characters’ interactions with one another. Despite their large, and often manic emotions, these seven characters are best friends and family members, and they are children (and a dog personified as a child), so there is a level of intimacy and comfort and unconditional love that roots them at all times, even when they are being bratty to one another. When this is apparent, as in the songs “Beethoven Day,” and “Happiness” this production soars perfectly. There are also a few issues of pacing, especially with movement, that on Opening were still coming together, but the heart and the energy of the piece is solid, and I think that is what will win over audiences, especially children.

You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown plays at the Bus Stop Theatre (2203 Gottingen Street) at the following times: 

Sept 9th : 8:10pm
Sept 10th : 9:50pm
Sept 11th : 8:50pm

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