MARS – Jayson McDonald
Space travel without horrific alien attack? Absurd. Then again, relationship battles masquerading as sci-fi adventures tend to work, and here we have two beauties. We ping-pong back and forth between a (maybe) doomed astronaut couple on their way to colonize Mars, and a father/daughter on a road trip. With a riveting story, brimming with smart technical detail and hilarious exchanges, Mars is that rare theatre beast: a perfectly executed, thought-provoking play, that balances the right amount of humour and existential quandry.
HEART PUPPETATIONS – Sandy Gibson, Miriam Drysdale
A very cute, high schooly play. Mean that in a nice way. Sandy Gibson is a fresh faced youngin who explores his youth, which in a world of adult pretend, is refreshing. So yes, there are puppets, and yes, the acting is nothing special, but there’s a great energy at play here, and the quirky plot quickly turns very engaging. It’s light, bright and simply lovely.
LARA LOVES LEONARD – Lara MacMillan
Being a Leonard Cohen fan (who isn’t?), this one came with plenty of hefty expectation. And as a unique interpreter of song, Lara MacMillan is very good indeed; but something was sorely lacking. Perhaps the absence of her crack band (recorded for this occasion), or maybe her rather mundane, forgettable stories; something was a miss. Egging the audience along to sing, just seemed awkward and forced. MacMillan is a wonderful singer, and her take on Cohen’s words masterful, bringing to life songs previously mumbled. Turn this into a full band cabaret and it’s a winner.
SH!T I’M IN LOVE WITH YOU AGAIN – Rachelle Elie, Luke Jackson
The shout-along, fan favourite play of the fest, Sh!t is a boisterous bawdy romp of tricky costume changes and toe-tapping tunes. Rachelle Elie exudes charisma, and she showers the crowd with her unbridled enthusiasm. Coming of age love stories (many of them) never grow old when presented with wit, charm and plenty of sparkly pizzaz. Be prepared to howl.
MAGICAL MYSTERY DETOUR – Gemma Wilcox
A tour d’acting force this. A small woman on a very large, black stage, Gemma Wilcox inhabits numerous characters (16 apparently) and one lonely chair to tell her epic road trip tale. Her varied accents (a cranky car, a fly, a dog, a tree and a bevy of humans) are impeccable and spot on, as she darts seamlessly at breakneck speed between the characters. The Magical Mystery Detour is a flawless, thespian triumph that surely trumps everything else at the fest, yet in spite of the fabulous execution, or perhaps because of it, this play may not be proper Fringe fodder. Better suited for Broadway methinks.
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