Tag Archives: murray utas

Ukelelia, echolalia, wordplay

After picking up my Sunworks turkey at the Strathcona Market, I took in another Snow Globe Festival performance this afternoon, this time Brother Platypus & Sister SuKat Go To The Sea, by Spirot with Khiara Quigley, directed by Murray Utas.

It was poetic, funny, musical, allegorical, and kind of free-associational in a similar way to other Steve Pirot/Murray Utas work, but at the same time appropriate for young audiences.  There was a story with problem and resolution, but it was not entirely plot-driven.   So, it was pretty much what I expected but at the same time enjoyably surprising.

Both performers, Sydney Gross and Steve Pirot, were playing ukeleles and singing. I’ve seen Sydney Gross behind the lights/sound boards lots of times but I don’t think I’d ever seen her on stage, but in this role she was enchantingly childlike but not childish, easy to identify with.  There was a little bit of dance, a little bit of audience participation, and wordplay for both kids (that name rings a bell!  Literally, and every time!) and adults (random apposite quotation from “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”)  There was also fantastical Matt Schuurman background video.

I’m not going to be able to catch the third show in the Snow Globe Festival, but each of the three plays has one more performance tonight.  One suggestion for Promise Productions:  next year, it would be great if people could find your schedule with fewer clicks – your website has the 2012 schedule and your Facebook event requires a bit of scrolling-down.

Azimuth Theatre’s Free-man on the Land – better than its blurb!

Free-man on the Land, playing at the Roxy Theatre on 124 Street, is the most unconventional or postmodern performance I have seen since the Fringe Festival.  And it’s fun!  It was both more playful and more provocative than I expected, and less of a humourless rant (or to keep the alliteration, I could say polemic).   The handbill description really doesn’t make it sound as interesting as it is.

I saw a preview show, with the theatre not very full, so I sat in the second row with nobody in the first row.  When I realised at the start that the narrator was ignoring the fourth wall and other conventions of theatre, I suddenly wondered if I would regret being so visible – and of course they called on me, but I think I responded well (all this improv training is coming in handy!)

I’ve read a bit about the Free-man on the Land movement and some of its proponents.  This Edmonton Journal article is one of the more entertaining bits.  I have a lot of sympathy for many people who call themselves anarchists whom I might describe as grassroots activists, but the FOTL thing has me sort of scratching my head and backing away, in general.

In the play, there’s enough story shown and hinted to make the main character (the man commonly known as Richard Svoboda, played by Des Parenteau) interesting and to suggest how he developed his views.  His attitudes bring him into conflict with his partner, played by Dale Ladouceur, who also sings several original songs during the show while accompanying herself on a Chapman Stick.  Her character isn’t quite as interesting as Richard, but more than a foil.  Other parts (a narrator and his chorus or counterfoil, a taxman, a court-appointed defence lawyer, a former employer, etc) were played by director Murray Utas and playwright Steve Pirot.

The Azimuth Theatre production of Free-man on the Land is playing at the Roxy until Sunday January 27th.  If you like weird theatre, you should go see it.