Reviewed by on    Ottawa Fringe 2012  

A spoof by a group of 11 students from the University of  Ottawa whose faces I recognize from other productions on that stage but whose names I don’t know.  Gangland movie style killing, TV police investigation show, all done  with  a playfully contemporary vision of  a reversed biblical adventure where   God, better known here as Papa,  is the arch gangster  who has set up his  believers as a criminal organization-The Brotherhood  – to get rid of intruders and those who don’t obey. Something of this reminds me of M the Maudit. – the arch-criminal,  that  Fritz Lang film that took us all back to the pre second world war days warning us of the coming of the Nazis.  I’ll bet the author is a real film buff and this staging makes a bit of an attempt to get into the "film noir" atmosphere.

In any case, this group does not take itself seriously. In fact it’s a real blast. Sam, one of the particularly nasty gunmen, has pangs of guilt because one day they apparently assassinated the wrong fellow. Belief systems are always set off by a murder, say the cultural anthropologists!   And that brings Sam to question the whole organization, their actions and especially the "God" papa himself.

Does he really exist? Since we never see him how do we know? Of course one of the "believers just tells him, you just have to "believe".   No, says SAm, and he is set up as the fallen angel (in Neo platonic terms) accompanied by his faithfully devilish Beelzebub (nowadays better known as a Japanese Manga as well as the devil as mentioned in the Old Testament). However this mainly  focusses on theatre and parodies of TV dialogue,  how women gang members and women police sing and dance sweetly  as “real”   women  who  strut around in tight miniskirts and stiletto shoes as trollops, even  in those tough situations where they are slapped and punched and not treated as nice girls at all. Stereotypes are  also part of the fun.  The men are all tough guys…with the exception of a nervous inspector who does exactly what his female boss tells him to and a nice smiling gangster who can’t help sympathizing with  the victims. .

They have tried to do this with choreography, and funny musical references to the Pink Panther among other things. there are  surprises at the end as it  finishes like a French parody of a Shakespearean play with a pile of dead bodies heaped up on stage.

There were some actors who have lots of potential like the fellow playing Sam who is very very comfortable with his body on stage. There is also the fellow who played Michael, the top tough guy who loves to pull out his gun at the slightest provocation, show them his is bigger than theirs, and then push them all around while suddenly changing the subject.   He appears to have a lot more experience than most of his colleagues.  There were a few others but since no information about names was provided I can’t tell you who they are.

What I liked best was the way they dragged the dead bodies off the stage. With the heads going bump bump bump on the floor!

The directing is rather sloppy, the dialogue was not really witty, but they do have a lot of energy.   Fallen, in fact falls into a category of "let’s have some fun at the fringe" event, the kind of show that  only parents, friends and school chums could love. And as proof, there was thunderous applause and lots of laughing each time anyone on stage blinked.  So, this is meant for the initiated.

Not quite to my taste but I would have liked to know the name of the director. Maybe they were just too ashamed to mention it.

Fallen: the Book of  Samael plays at the Academic Hall of the Theatre Department.

Fallen: The Book of Samael

Written by Amy Rainer Zhou