Reviewed by Crysania Sprott THE 4333 A
The second evening of the sixth Fresh Meat festival which was held at the Arts Court theatre on Friday, October 13th offered up an nice selection of new works by artists in the Ottawa theatre community. The first three performances presented a good variety of pieces, and offered something for everyone.
Le Crisp Bleu
The first work of the evening provided the most lighthearted and frivolous fun piece of the show. “Le Crip Bleu”, which was conceived by Michele Decottignies, gave us an intriguing twist on a burlesque performance. While the show provided the expected dancing and stripping to sultry jazz music, the twist was that the performers (Frank Hull and Alan Shain) were two men in electric wheelchairs. The piece employed very creative use of wheelchairs to emulate burlesque moves, but adapted them to suit bodies which are otherwise limited. In this way, “Le Crip Bleu was able to challenge conventions of what is considered beautiful and sexy, while also simply being a lot of fun, both for the performers, who were visibly having a great time, and for the audience, who fed off their infectious energy and shouted and cheered them on.
Following the excitement of “Le Crip Bleu”, the second piece of the evening was vastly different. In a distinct shift in tone, “La disparition (She’s gone)” was a lovely, touching piece is about mothers. The piece was created and performed by Anie Richer and Marc-André Charette, and as they were able to speak and perform in their own words about the loss of a mother, either to death or to dementia, “La disparition” took on a genuinely moving and honest aspect which brought several members of the audience to tears. This very genuine and emotional piece was full of lovely dynamic shifts, and the writing was very good. The only place where this performance fell down at all was in the technical element of the surtitles. Because the piece was in French, surtitles were used to make the words understood. However, they were too slow and lagged behind the actual dialogue, and they were also placed too high to read easily and watch the play at the same time.
The third piece of the show which rounded out the first act was “Beer Buddies”, which was both written and performed by Michaela Steven. Much like “La disparition”, “Beer Buddies” was an honest, personal piece for the creator, but unfortunately it did not have the same emotional resonance as the previous show had. While her performance was solid in terms of technique, the piece came across much more self-indulgent and pretentious than having a genuine sense of honesty. Several elements of the production didn’t seem to work, from the repeated drinking, which was thematically relevant but slowed the pacing, to her short black dress which seemed more suited to a dance piece than to the story she was telling. That said, there were good qualities as well. In particular, she had a nice sense of humour, which was evident in moments such as asking a member of the audience which wine she should pick. The lighting was also rather effective in demonstrating a shift in locations or the time of day. Overall however, the work fell flat.
These pieces offered just a snap shot of the variety of works presented at the Fresh Meat festival, and gave a clear idea of the wonderful creativity which abounds in the creators of new works in the Ottawa theatre community.