On the day of our show Sonder‘s closing, I woke up early and rushed around with a to-do list in my head. I ended up photocopying more programs for the show at the Strathcona Library because I didn’t have time to do them at home, for example. We ended up giving out almost all the programs and having a nearly-full house for the last show in our successful run. It’s been a great experience producing a show in a lottery venue at the Edmonton Fringe, and I’ve loved working with all the other artists of The ? Collective.
I also managed to fit in to my day some quiet times and conversations, some naan and some knitting and some Diet Coke. And I saw two shows. (I had been hoping to see Holly Cinnamon’s This is the kind of animal that I am as well, but it didn’t fit with our post-closing schedule.)
I’d never before seen Gordon’s Big Bald Head, an improv show with Jacob Banigan, Mark Meer, and Chris Craddock, but in future years I will definitely put them on my priority list. In this show, the improvisers use a semi-random process to select one other Fringe show from the program, read out the synopsis, and then spend an hour creating and playing their version of a show that could fit that synopsis. The show chosen this time was You Can Use That, and the synopsis mentioned a stand-up comic selling his soul to the devil. Their version had each of them playing several characters each in different parts to the same narrative, and not very much switching out who was playing each. I was impressed at how tightly plotted their story turned out to be. And I laughed a lot, because these three improvisers are all very funny and clever people.
My next show was Under the Mango Tree, a solo performance inspired by the creator Veenesh Dubois’ own family history, growing up in Fiji and waiting several years with her grandparents while her father worked in Canada. The fictional story told on stage didn’t have such a happy resolution, but it was artistically satisfying. The performer played several characters, a grandmother, father, aunt, and baby as well as the narrator at the ages of 10, 15, 16, and I think about 21. Her base costume was a salwar kameez, with a red scarf that she wore in various ways to portray the grandmother, a teenager, a bride, and so on, and she also changed her hairstyle effectively. I liked her child character’s stubborn free un-self-conscious body language.