Montreal Fringe: Ginger Slurs & Slut Shaming

1 Posted by - June 19, 2014 - Features, Performance, Reviews

Project Gingervitis

Project Gingervitis is a smart, funny take on discrimination, eugenics, geopolitics, and media manipulation. A one-man show written and brilliantly performed by Jordan Lloyd Watkins and set in a dystopian future, the show tells the story of a lone redhead born years after redheads were thought to have been eradicated.

A mix of live performance and meticulously crafted video, Project Gingervitis operates on several levels at once, calling out real-life discrimination against redheads while also using it to point out the absurdity of Western domestic and foreign policy as well as hyperbolic 24-hour news channels.

The videos themselves are a blend of real-life anti-redhead slurs and Watkins’ own bang-on satire. From a fake news network called Sunfox, to variations in room tone and sound quality between clips ostensibly from different sources, the attention to detail in the videos is impeccable.

All in all, there’s nothing not to love here. The writing is strong, the performance is tight, the pacing is perfect, and the satire is razor-sharp. This is one to go out of your way to see.

Project Gingervitis runs until June 22 at the MAI. Get your tickets here.

Chamber Music

Set in an asylum in 1938, Arthur Kopit’s 1962 play Chamber Music imagines what happens when eight women believing themselves to be famous women in history (or seven plus the real Amelia Earhart, depending on your interpretation of things) form a committee for inmate grievances and eventual governance, presided over by Susan B. Anthony.

Chamber MusicOstensibly about men’s treatment of women, the material is heavy-handed and seems to tacitly argue that feminism is a man-hating activity that harms women and will eventually destroy itself from within. Granted, it’s possible that some nuance that counters this may have been lost in the sheer wordiness and chaos of this play, but if so then that’s a major fault.

With that said, though, all other aspects of this production are actually excellent. The performances from all eight female leads are strong (in particular, Victoria Smith as Queen Isabella does some incredible things with her eyes), and the staging and design are simple but make the most of the space and resources available. If you’re able to ignore the larger issues with the material in the name of solid acting, then this is worth the hour.

Chamber Music runs until June 21 at Mainline Theatre. Buy your tickets here.

Stefan Petersen: Unretweetable

Billed as a “laugh-fest with a heart of gold” featuring “raccoons, lube pumps, weird dad stories, genocide, rollerblading and alternative political theories” with free potato chips into the deal, Stefan Petersen: Unretweetable only delivers on half of that.

Essentially an hour of stand-up, Petersen’s material does include raccoons, lube pumps, and so on, and there are indeed free chips. The laughs and heart of gold, however, are undetectable among the slut-shaming (on the lube pump: “I just want to feel special … I picked it up and it was almost empty, what the fuck”), comparing people with Down Syndrome to dogs, using the word ‘retard’ to insult people who buy blinds, and casual food-based racism (“I like American food. Hamburgers and Coke. Ethnic food is just sauce.”).

As for the alternative political theories, this is mostly limited to a brief discussion of the glossing over of Canada’s treatment of First Nations peoples in social studies textbooks. For a moment it seemed like Petersen was going somewhere interesting with it, and it was at that moment that he dismissed the subject as “political bullshit” and started handing out potato chips. It’s not just unretweetable, it’s unacceptable.

Stefan Petersen: Unretweetable runs until June 22 at Petit Campus. Buy your tickets here, although frankly you’d be better off buying a bag of chips at the grocery store and having $7 left for beer.

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