Tag Archives: OttFringe

Fringe 2016: Small Creatures Such as We

An edited of this review was published by Apt613.
Brace yourself for a tough look at the scars left behind by a cruel adolescence in Small Creatures Such as We, a well written yet painful to watch at times offering by Angels in the Rafters productions.

An unassuming set with a sofa to stage left and a kitchen/bar to stage right provide a simple and effective method for time travel as the actors shift between their 14 and 16 year old selves on the sofa to their present day incarnations a decade later. As the performance unfolds layers past and present are progressively bared, as Kit (Vishesh Abeyratne) and Joanna (Meagan McDonald) travel back and forth between the two “rooms” gradually uncovering achievements, setbacks, fears and their most intimate trials and betrayals.

Kit has Joanna on his mind and, after a 10 year gap without contact he tracks her down for a visit. Reunited after a decade the lifestyle contrast is marked; he’s an accomplished actor while her life is in neutral, stalled, held back by her past and unseen damage.  Kit is tea-total “1 year sober” he tells Joanna as she pours herself strong drinks in quick succession. For Kit the time has passed quickly while Joanna “has felt every minute.”

The memory scenes coupled with a strong chemistry between the actors creates a believably convincing bond that begs the question as to why they’ve kept their distance.  Touching language mimics emotions: “I’ve been looking out for you” says Joanna while Kit confesses that during tours “I’d look out for you.”

A gradual and thoughtful build up to complexity of the piece swells the audience’s insight as the performance moves back and forth in time exposing glimpses of childhood and adolescence constructing a solid and compelling base that makes the viciousness that unfolds all the more tragic.

At times Fringe works aim for shock value however in Small Creatures Such as We the jolts are miles away from gratuitous; rather there is a sense of universality like exposing a disturbing truth or buried memories.  The authenticity is partially due to attentive crafting; thoughtfully constructed complex characters out of what could easily be unsympathetic personalities. It is also largely down to the sincere, never-overwrought, performances put in by McDonald and Abeyratne who bring an attentive realism to their roles.

There are improvements that should be considered, including a desperately needed redaction of the final line, but the writing in the whole is so very good, the subject matter admirably handled and the performances so true that it really should deserve a spot on the must-see Fringe list.

Ottawa Fringe Festival 2016
Small Creatures Such as We
Academic Hall 133 Séraphin-Marion
June 15-26, 2016

 

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Fringe 2016:Well isn’t this super… (Marvellous Man IV: The Return of Marvellous Man)

An edited version of this review was published by Apt613

A rather sophisticated story with sweet perspective shifts Well isn’t This Super… exhibits an impressive maturity by Dead Unicorn Ink while their irreverent edge remains firmly intact. In the amusing opening sequence, a Tinder hook up reveals itself to be the set of a superhero movie. The production shifts between the on-set film, with actors in character, to characters with real-life struggles trying to make their professional mark.

Well-Isnt-This-Super...-375x375Newcomer Nikki Reilly is trying desperately to establish her character Mystic Quartz as a viable superhero lead alongside the eponymous star of the Marvellous Man franchise Dan Stevens and cheering frat-boy Director Michael Cove. Corseted, in stilettos and a mini-skirt it is when the director yells cut that the misogyny at the heart of the piece really comes to the fore.  Dismissed and marginalized, Dan even refers to her as “tits”, Nikki has visions of a strong independent female superhero and a possible spin-off franchise.

Pace and comedy keep the storyline brisk despite the characters’ struggles with casual, even institutionalized, sexism and the insincerity of the Hollywood promise. Creator Patricia Forbes does an admirable job providing serious content with no heavy lifting required by the audience.  The writing is crisp and action swift as it moves from between-scenes conversations to on-camera sequences with over-the-top hokey dialogue and a very winning super villain. It’s an ensemble piece where everyone pulls their weight. The roles of Nikki and Dan are assuredly strong while Len, the androgynous runner, provides a delightful performance where an alliance is counter-balanced by personal aims reflecting the narcissism through-out the piece. The cast are accomplished and deft throughout delivering a brilliantly performed work.

As the production plays out there are more twists and turns as each character tries to solidify their own position to the detriment of their colleague. Who ends up on top remains to be seen in this trust-free environment.

Book in early for “Well isn’t this super…” as it has the hallmarks of a festival favourite.

Ottawa Fringe Festival 2016
Well Isn’t this Super…
BYOV Nostalgica Café 601 Cumberland St.
June 15-26, 2016