There were several held-over shows that I hadn’t seen, but I had other commitments midweek, so I went to three shows on the holdover weekend. The Westbury lobby fills up fast with people who were too busy during the Fringe to see everything they wanted. Nobody’s wearing Artist or Volunteer badges any more, but probably a lot of them were last week. I should mention that a few volunteers and staff are still around making things run smoothly at the box office, concession, and lobby-filling ramen-noodle-block of a queue, and I’m always in awe of them.
My companion and I saw Mike Delamont’s solo show God is a Scottish Drag Queen II, and the two dance shows of Jake Hastey’s Toy Guns Dance Theatre.
It was my first time seeing Mike Delamont perform. His persona wore a “lady’s power suit”, a floral two-piece with wrap blouse, with bare feet and a sensible bobbed haircut. This was not really what I picture when I hear “drag queen”, but it fit the character, and made me think vaguely of photos of Queen Elizabeth visiting Scotland. I kept forgetting that he was supposedly speaking as God, because he was just making funny observations as a person. And I actually have no idea why he was in drag, or whether his persona was supposed to be male, female, or not conventionally gendered. Maybe that was covered in his original show, and it wasn’t very distracting either. His performance had a few improvised bits and responses to audience questions or reactions, but mostly he went through a list of several topics that people had asked to hear more about after his previous show – mostly stuff about Christianity and Biblical stories. I appreciated the deft way he acknowledged a suggestion to talk about pedophile priests by stating immediately that sexual abuse is not funny. Apparently he plans to return to Edmonton with a third show, for which people can submit more suggestions and questions on line.
The two dance shows were Red Wine, French Toast, and the Best Sex You’ve Ever Had, on the Friday night, with a cast of six (David Clennin, Robert Halley, Dylan Parsons, Tia Kushniruk, Amber Bisonnette, and Richelle Thoreson), and Propylene Glycol, Maltodextrin, Retinol Palmitate, and Other Words I Don’t Understand Like Love on the Saturday, with eleven dancers (most of the above plus Richard Lee, Dario Charles, Cynthia Hicks, Katie McGuigan-Scott, Jemma Robinson, Valerie Rodriguez) , an opera singer (Elizabeth Raycroft), and an occasional narrator (Christine Lesiak). I enjoyed both of them and I will make a point of watching for more productions from this company. People I met during Fringe who had seen one or the other described them as “the one with a scene of eating cake” (Red Wine) – it was surprisingly amusing to watch the cast members all eat cake in different ways, especially Tia Kushniruk – and “the one with the pillows” (Propylene Glycol). In both shows, I was immediately captivated by the overwhelming playfulness of the performers and the choreography. I also loved the approach to sexuality seen in many of the pieces, joyful and open and not limited to exclusive opposite-sex pairs. I was impressed by the athletic and evocative dance skill of Robert Halley and Richelle Thoreson, and by the distractingly-flirtatious stage presence of Dylan Parsons. I don’t really see how the titles fit or distinguish the work, and I noticed that the Propylene Glycol show actually mentioned both red wine and French toast. But that didn’t bother me.