Fresh Meat Festival

Ottawa’s weird and wonderful Fresh Meat theatre festival is a treat for daring audiences

Reviewed by Kat Fournier

The Fresh Meat Festival returns to Arts Court theatre for its fifth instalment. Were an unsuspecting audience member to stumble upon this event, it’d be one for the books. Fresh Meat is for fearless audience members who are looking for a taste of the experimental, unhinged and up-and-coming. The festival distinguishes itself as one that presents unbridled artistry from local theatre makers in the early stages of their careers. That these works are unpolished and presented with minimal set or costuming only adds to the atmosphere; the DIY aesthetic is met by truly experimental performances by Ottawa’s next generation of creators.

The Fresh Meat Festival runs two weekends, the second of which kicked off on Thursday October 20. During the second weekend of Fresh Meat 5, five shows run the gamut of theatrical styles, from self-reflective storytelling, to scripted sketch comedy, physical comedy and more. Across the board, the performances are comedic in nature. That’s where the comparison ends.

The evening opens with a performance by the winners of the 2016 Prix Rideau Awards for Outstanding New Creation for their 2016 Ottawa Fringe offering, Rideshares and Ropeswings. Catch Matt Hertendy and Matthew Venne’s succeeding show, Boy vs. Chair at Fresh Meat 5. The show is a disorienting stand-off between a man in a propeller hat and a not-so-inanimate, black chair. It’s a kind of parody of the common narrative convention that “things are not what they seem,” delivering to its audience a silly, peculiar and awkward story that is more rooted in the physical comedy of the two performers than it is in making itself understandable. What starts as a power struggle soon becomes a Bop-It! duel, then a reconciliation, then a choreographed pas-de-deux. Just kidding, they obviously aren’t dancers. Hertendy and Venne are advantaged by their awkward physical presences on stage, and this show will undoubtedly give you the giggles. (more…)

Fresh Meat Festival Offers Variety to Ottawa Theater Scene

Reviewed by Rajka Stefanovska

Megan Carty in Me and My Monster

Megan Carty in Me and My Monster

Fresh Meat 3, an annual showcase of 20-minute, original theatrical performances by local artists, is definitely an important contribution to the theatre scene in Ottawa. Here, ideas meet the stage and, sometimes, it gives rise to young, emerging artists. Will this year’s showcase discover a “true gem,” is yet to be seen.

As far as the first three shows go it seems that there is a potential, but there is still a lot more work to be done.

The first stop is My Cardboard Life, written and performed by Jonah Allingham with directorial contribution by Katie Swift.

This is a story about Jasper who works in a cardboard factory. After realizing that his private life is no more than a series of repetitive actions (sleep, eat, work), he accuses the cardboard in his factory and tries to destroy it. Finally, he finds out that the cardboard is indestructible, and that, if he wants to change his life, he must leave it (or escape from the routine). While the idea is worth exploring, the execution is not there. There is a lot missing, starting with the energy. Jonah seems to be a good writer, but his acting should be on quite a different level. The only convincing moment in his performance was when he asked the audience to help. Then, his desperation looked more genuine and his voice and facial expression approached the feeling of helplessness that he tried to portray. (more…)

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