Montreal Fringe: God as Drag Queen, Big Gay Weddings, and Peeing on Stage for Poverty

0 Posted by - June 20, 2014 - Features, Performance, Reviews

God Is A Scottish Drag Queen II

Where this God is concerned, nothing is sacred.

Essentially an hour of stand-up performed by Mike Delamont in character as a Scottish incarnation of God in a floral power suit with a list of religion-related talking points, God Is A Scottish Drag Queen II changes focus from one performance to the next based on audience requests for additions to the talking points.

The Lord’s observations are usually hilariously spot-on, skewering everyone from the Westboro Baptist Church to hipsters. Every now and then, though, He suddenly veers into territory that can be interpreted as self-righteous or particularly uncharitable towards various groups of people.

This only seems to happen when He goes too far off book and backs Himself into a corner, and it ends as quickly as it starts. It’s a shame that they happen at all though, considering how smart and funny the rest of God’s act is.

God Is A Scottish Drag Queen II runs until June 22 at the Cabaret Mile End. Buy your tickets here. God will also be appearing at the Winnipeg and Edmonton Fringe Festivals.


Lotus

Lotus

A new play by Caitlin Murphy, Lotus is a taut two-hander in which Linda (Miriam Cummings), a young cop, tries to figure out the truth behind a graphic image posted to Amber’s (Samantha Megarry) Facebook page.

Amber maintains that it is a hoax posted by mean girls from her new high school, while Linda suspects that Amber is the victim not just of cyberbullying but of gang rape, with horrific consequences. Murphy tries to leave the question of the image’s truthfulness open to debate until the very end, but there are just enough hints that the ending is less of a surprise than intended.

Clearly drawing on the multiple cases of gang rape at small-town high schools reported in the media recently, the material is strong, although the subplot about Linda’s relationship with her hypochondriac mother distracts from the main issues (as well as from the more interesting, and relevant, subplot about Linda’s career woes).

Between this and the show’s limited run time, there is no chance for any fresh insight to fully develop, which is a shame given the intelligence and thoughtfulness of Murphy’s writing.

Despite this flaw, Lotus is still well worth seeing. The performances are consistently solid, and the staging is minimal but effective. The sound design here is worth a special mention: Often either overlooked or overdone in Fringe shows, the sound designer has managed to create a soundscape that meshes perfectly with the show, effectively creating the sense of the physical spaces that the limited resources of Fringe production often preclude.

Lotus runs at the Espace 4001 Berri until June 22. Buy your tickets here. Lotus will also be presented at The ARTS Project in London, ON, from August 5-9.


Curse of the Starving Class

Curse of the Starving Class

An up-close look at a California family coping with a desperate level of poverty, this production of Sam Shepard’s Curse of the Starving Class is an admirable if over-staged attempt to do justice to the source material.

The acting has some rough spots, but is overall reasonably good. The actors seem to be rushing through their lines at many points, but in fairness, the source material is so wordy that they can’t be blamed for wanting to get it all in in under an hour.

This is actually an advantage in a way though, since it gives the audience a sense of being as overwhelmed as the characters are as they face being forced off their land by developers while coping with their individual crises (alcoholism, puberty, domestic violence, and parental abandonment).

It’s certainly worth seeing, especially if you haven’t seen another production before, but be warned that the staging includes actual, audience-facing urination.

Curse of the Starving Class runs at Club Español until June 22. Buy your tickets here. Avoid sitting front row centre if you’re not wearing closed shoes.


My Big Gay Italian Wedding

My BIG Gay Italian Wedding

While the original production of My BIG Gay Italian Wedding was apparently enough of an off-Broadway smash to have had several runs in the past decade, the production currently playing as part of the Montreal Fringe is amateur hour. Or rather, amateur hour and a half — at 90 minutes, this is significantly longer than most Fringe shows, and with very little to show for it.

Ostensibly about a young Italian man whose family makes a long list of demands before they will accept his decision to marry his boyfriend, the potential for a strong, funny exploration of the politics of intersecting identities is inherent in the concept.

Having not seen the original production, it’s possible that this is in fact the case and it has just been edited out here for whatever reason. This particular production, however, is a parade of stereotypes that does no one any favours in the representation and reconciliation departments.

Mostly, this is down to bad acting and bad directing. The acting is flat and shrieky, literally — the actors haven’t been taught to project their voices, and the only one who is miked is Davyn Ryall as the wedding planner. Ryall, also the director, turns in perhaps the worst of the performances.

Channelling Martin Short’s character from the Father of the Bride films is never a good choice, and it’s particularly bad when Ryall breaks character to give the tech sound cues from the stage, then returns to reading his lines off a clipboard but with a totally different accent each time.

Having started 15 minutes late for no real reason, a BIG disrespectful gesture to both the audience and to the next show scheduled in the venue, and not having any redeeming value whatsoever, it’s no surprise that several audience members walked out long before the show ended.

My BIG Gay Italian Wedding runs until June 22 at the Cabaret Mile End. Buy your tickets here.

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