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An Improvised Christmas Carol

Yule Be Amazed

Review by Sean McQuaid 

Charles Dickens’ classic 1843 novella A Christmas Carol has been reprinted, adapted, imitated and lampooned endlessly, so coming up with a new spin on this grand old tale is a daunting task. Community theatre group ACT’s latest version of the story sidesteps that hurdle by having their audience choose how the story gets revamped in An Improvised Christmas Carol

Audience suggestions reshape all manner of settings, characterizations and plot points over the course of the show. On the night of this review, for instance, Scrooge runs a fishing business (which segues into a darkly comic running gag about assorted mermaid defilements), Tiny Tim’s tragic infirmity is a lisp, and the dreaded Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come communicates via interpretive dance. 

Patron participation extends beyond providing suggestions. Audience members join in on a couple of Christmas singalongs, get drafted into scenes, and vote (via applause) on certain casting with actors auditioning briefly for the crowd, which is how 50-something improv neophyte Darlene Lund narrowly edges out precocious teen improviser Sophie MacInnis and improv veteran Stacy Dunn to become a surreally unlikely, potently funny Tiny Tim. 

Director/narrator John Mazerolle heads a cast consisting of the Island Improv Company (Mazerolle, Noah Nazim, Johnny Novak, Nadine Salami and Nason Scribner) plus Dunn, Lund, MacInnis and Sophia Ball. All eight find moments to shine over the course of the night and nearly all of them play multiple characters, though Nazim is locked into the lead role as Scrooge, a part he plays with malevolently mugging gusto. 

Mazerolle, who’s done earlier versions of this show with improv groups in Saint John and Toronto, is a likeably low-key presence as the show’s narrator. He and Nazim in particular also help facilitate the others’ efforts, finding ways to move things along or dial up the funny as needed, adding a smattering of choice asides along the way. 

It’s not all gold — like any improv there’s a mix of hits and misses over the course of the night, and some segments drag on a bit (the fun-but-repetitive vacation slides routine springs to mind); but an engaged, energetic cast mostly keeps it lively and light (give or take a mermaid murder), and there are lots of neat little touches. 

Salami, for instance, uses her dance training to good effect as a salsa-style Ghost of Christmas Past and Nazim gamely echoes her efforts, literally thinking fast on his feet; newcomer Lund’s instinctive comedic flair boosts many a scene, especially as a squeakily tongue-tied Tiny Tim; MacInnis excels at both bold choices and big, intense physical movement in multiple sequences, and there are similarly showily physical bits from Novak, Scribner, Dunn, Ball and Lund at one time or another, making it a visually interesting show despite super-minimal set and props. 

As a lifelong Christmas Carol fan I still prefer the novella and its better scripted adaptations — two of the very best being the 1992 Muppet version and the 1951 Alastair Sim version, the latter recently screened by the Charlottetown Film Society at City Cinema (here’s hoping they do that every year) — but ACT’s improv variant is certainly a fun change of pace. After all, it enabled me to write perhaps the first-ever Christmas Carol review using the phrase “assorted mermaid defilements,” surely the sort of holiday gift money can’t buy. Or to paraphrase Tiny Tim: God help us, every one.

Four One-Act Comedies Did by Rob MacDonald

We Was Robbed 

Review by Sean McQuaid 

Ye olde reviewer last visited The Guild to watch a musical based on an Anne of Green Gables novel, so it neatly bookends the month to be back there a week later watching a show built around Anne’s fellow enduring PEI theatrical staple (not to mention her occasional artistic re-interpreter), the redoubtable Rob MacDonald.  

A popular performer for decades, MacDonald appeared on the cover of the very first issue of The Buzz as the face of satirical sketch comedy classic Annekenstein. Many other projects followed featuring him on stage or screen, but his newest show’s a bit different. This time he’s largely behind the scenes as writer/director/producer while other actors perform his four new one-act comedies. 

It’s a smart, funny, jam-packed night of theatre with a commendably playful unifying tone. MacDonald’s comedic presence pervades the proceedings, whether it’s the oft-odd program text (the Sam Wainwright bit made me laugh out loud), his comically awkward voice-over intro or his Hitchcockian cameos, most notably a loopily kuroko-esque walk-on bit where MacDonald plays matchmaker for a couple of stuffed toys.  

“The Cat Fight” features amiable weirdo Gus (Rob’s son Cameron MacDonald, playing to his strengths) and ruthlessly hyper-competitive Agnes (Alicia Arsenault) as cat owners vying for the favour of cat show judge Judy (pronounced “Ju-DAY,” played by Tim Wartman). It’s probably the slightest and silliest of the four scripts but lots of fun, thanks in part to some skillfully deployed plush cats.  

Wartman drifts in and out of audibility projection-wise and he doesn’t always effectively sell Judy’s more gleefully intense moments, but he’s a likeable, funny performer and makes a good foil for the showier antics of Arsneault and MacDonald, who have the larger, wackier parts here and play them quite well.  

Rob reunites with his red-braided muse in “St. Anne, Saviour of Lost Souls”, featuring Charlottetown panhandlers Slippy (Lennie MacPherson) and Ray (Graham Putnam) trying to upgrade from bums to buskers by staging their own two-man Anne of Green Gables adaptation for freaked-out pedestrians.  

The hilarious result is like a drunken compact mockery of Annekenstein’s classic “World’s Fastest Anne” sketch, which is part of what makes this the night’s best play. Other factors include the acting chops and comedic chemistry of the MacPherson-Putnam duo, a ridiculous yet oddly touching story, and the vivid, engaging specificity of both the setting and the characters’ voices in MacDonald’s thoughtful script.  

Oddly experimental, “The Swedish Movie” stars Adam Brazier and Kelly Caseley as a couple whose life echoes the setting, feel and pacing of old Swedish films — slow, deliberate, enigmatic, banal, portentous, isolated. This play’s not for everybody (quiet awkwardness abounds), but Brazier and Caseley perform it well, and the script and the staging manage the triple feat of satirizing Swedish cinema and quasi-replicating Swedish cinema while telling a complete story — or at least implying one.  

The night ends with “The Nappers” starring Kassinda Bulger, Jay Gallant, Rachel MacLeod and Rory Starkman as quirky, quarrelsome kidnappers trying (oh so ineptly) to get a rich ransom payoff for the boy (Charlie Ross) they’ve abducted. An able cast (especially Bulger and Starkman) with well-timed comic interplay makes the most of a nicely paced, slow-burn set-up which gradually builds to a payoff that’s enjoyably goofy, much like the rest of the evening’s well-crafted weirdness.  

Rainbow Valley

Un-Annie Valley

Review by Sean McQuaid 

When is an Anne of Green Gables story not an Anne story? When it’s writer/director Hank Stinson’s entirely Anne-free stage musical adaptation of Lucy Maud Montgomery’s 1919 novel Rainbow Valley

Granted, the novel itself isn’t steeped in Anne content. The fifth of LMM’s books featuring Anne Blythe (née Shirley), Rainbow Valley offers a middle-aged, married Anne who’s more of a background character, a proto-Mary Worth who observes other characters’ livelier antics, offering occasional advice, support and commentary. 

Those characters include widower John Meredith, new minister of Glen St. Mary, and his young children; their feisty young orphan pal Mary Vance; Anne’s friend Cornelia, who later adopts Mary Vance; Anne’s children, who share their titular outdoor hideaway with the Meredith kids; spinster sisters Ellen and Rosemary West, the latter courted by John; and wealthy curmudgeon Norman Douglas, Ellen’s former beau. 

The novel is soap-operatic in its episodic, intermittently romantic tales of a big, densely interwoven ensemble; but the musical focuses on fewer characters, mostly John Meredith (played here by Colin Hood) and his four children Una (Keili Johnston), Faith (Brooklyn Riley), Carl (Jace MacPherson) and Gerry (James Ronahan), plus Mary Vance (Hannah McGaughey), Rosemary (Samantha Bruce) and Norman (Corin McFadden), with an expanded role for meddlesome society matron Mrs. “Kitty” Alec Davis (Shelley Tamtom). 

Gone are the Blythes, Cornelia and Ellen, though some of their functions shift to other characters, while Mary Vance becomes a more central and sympathetic figure here than in the novel. Stinson’s expanded, slightly softened take on Mary works fairly well, subbing Rosemary for Cornelia as Mary’s mother figure is effective both dramatically and in terms of narrative unity, and eliminating the Blythes has little plot impact despite Anne’s son Walter being one of the novel’s most memorable characters. 

The equally distinctive Ellen’s absence is more keenly felt, partly for eliminating her and Rosemary’s odd couple dynamic, and partly because the novel’s unique Norman-Ellen romance becomes Norman’s half-hearted, unrequited infatuation with Rosemary in the musical, a tacked-on, largely pointless subplot by comparison. 

It’s an able adaptation overall, however, and an efficient one – in terms of distilling a sprawling novel into a coherently compact play, it’s an achievement reminiscent of the Deane/Balderston 1920s stage adaptation of Dracula, only more faithful to the source material. 

Stinson and score composer Dean Burry first adapted Rainbow Valley way back in 2000, now newly revised and remounted in 2018 under the auspices of ACT. Pam Jewell’s attractive, plausible costumes, Mystaya Idt’s lively choreography and solid sets by stage manager Sharon MacDonald & Cyril Armstrong all enhance the package, as does assistant director/musical director/accordionist Marti Hopson’s small-but-mighty “Alley Cats” mini-orchestra. 

The superb Samantha Bruce is a standout in a strong community cast, understated and believable as Rosemary but moving and entertaining, with really fine vocals on numbers like “Love Sweet Love”. McGaughey is quite good as Mary Vance, Hood and Tamtom are effective in their parts and McFadden is cartoony but fun as Norman, leaving no scenery un-chewed. 

Johnston, Riley, MacPherson and Ronahan lend lots of energy and charm as the Meredith kids, despite occasional technique hiccups such as projection issues. Ronahan is the most consistently audible of the junior quartet, and quite likably natural as Jerry. 

The show’s book and lyrics incorporate many choice bits from Montgomery’s text, crafting a warm, gently funny family story, and Burry’s tunes are often infectious; the title track in particular has haunted your susceptible scribe’s skull for days now. When I last absent-mindedly hummed it, my daughter heard me and offered her own six-word review: “That was such a good musical.” 

Mary’s Wedding

Dream Couple

Review by Sean McQuaid 

Dreams don’t always make sense. Take it from a guy who once spent most of a dream in a sing-along stock car rally teamed with Ray Charles and Anne Shirley (Ray was driving, naturally); but logical or not, true or not, dreams are often emotionally powerful. Sentimental and surreal, dream-spun drama Mary’s Wedding channels that power in spades. 

Penned in 2002 by Canadian playwright Stephen Massicotte, Mary’s Wedding takes place in a dream in 1920 the night before the titular Mary’s nuptials. Mary (played by Jenna Marie) dreams of her romance with Charlie (Adam Gauthier) — how they met, how they courted, and how World War I tore them apart. 

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I — also known, perversely, as “The Great War” — so Massicotte’s anti-war romance set during that conflict feels uniquely timely right now. It’s a smartly chosen project from indie producers Sandstone Theatre Company, as executed by director Paul Whelan, producer Grace Kimpinski and their collaborators. 

While Sandstone is a new outfit, part of the draw here is the show’s established names: Gauthier and Whelan are both among PEI’s most able and accomplished actors, not to mention Whelan’s impressive track record as a director (his only role here), and Marie has done very fine work in smaller parts for ACT. 

Gauthier’s Charlie is a charismatic, funny romantic lead, alternately frantic and stoic in war, often sad yet darkly serene as he drifts in and out of Mary’s dream; and Whelan’s capable direction, aided by stage manager Wallena Higgins, moves the Gauthier-Marie duo around their Watermark Theatre venue both smoothly and energetically with fluid blocking, a dreamily minimalist set and solid lighting and sound by Pat Caron. 

Good as Gauthier is, Marie is arguably the better half of Whelan’s dream team in this production. Matching Gauthier in terms of charm and chops, hers is the most enduringly, hauntingly memorable presence of the two. It’s partly because she plays multiple roles, appearing in the dream not only as Mary but also as Charlie’s wartime sergeant; but even more impressive is how she navigates Mary’s dual function as both dream and dreamer. 

Put another way, as written by Massicotte and directed by Whelan, Marie’s Mary is spectator or participant or both as various segments of her dream unfold, sometimes focused on action we can see onstage and sometimes fixated on something or someone offstage, and she’s fascinating either way. Marie’s emotional engagement in whatever Mary is seeing, tangible or not, is both credible and compelling. 

A superb Gauthier-Marie performance, Whelan’s adroit direction and Kimpinski’s polished production values all help make this a great show, but the best part remains Massicotte’s brilliant script. Equal parts elegiac and rhapsodic, it’s an unflinching portrait of wartime horror and a charming, funny, deeply moving romance all in one, as filtered through a fragmentary dreamscape that often defies logic but always feels emotionally real and true.

The Island Summer Review

Rolling in the Isle 

Review by Sean McQuaid 

Your derelict diarist is a fraud, folks. Or I was until last Wednesday, anyway. Here I was masquerading as an alleged quasi-authority on PEI theatre when I’d never seen a Patrick Ledwell show. Feel free to hurl your newspaper across the room in disgust, or just scowl scornfully at your screen if you’re reading this electronically. Maybe shake your head in my general direction, more in disappointment than anger. Go ahead. I’ll wait. 

All done? Good. (No hard feelings, I had it coming.) Writer/comedian Ledwell’s become an Island cultural institution in the past decade or so, and I’m not entirely unfamiliar with his work. He’s a fun recurring guest on CBC’s The Debaters, for instance, and I always enjoy his distracted driving PSA at our beloved Brackley Drive-In Theatre; but somehow or other, I’d never seen any of his live shows. 

That includes the PEI-themed, musical comedy variety shows Ledwell specializes in, such as The New Potato-Time Review (2009-2010), Charlottetown Festival hit Come-All-Ye (2011-2012), and The Island Summer Review (2013-present). Ledwell’s Come-All-Ye collaborators included singer-songwriter Mark Haines, now the co-creator and co-star of the Island Summer Review (or ISR for short), Ledwell’s longest-running show yet. 

Said longevity means I finally got around to seeing ISR this year, on a rare night where I wasn’t broke or busy or distracted by a shiny object; and I’m glad I made the trip to Harmony House Theatre in scenic Hunter River, because the Haines-Ledwell duo puts on a really great show: clever, funny, energetic, even surprisingly moving in spots, and packed with laugh-out-loud comedy on topics local, regional and universal. 

An ongoing Island-centric stage anthology of monologues and songs is a concept dating back at least as far as David Weale and Roy Johnstone’s seminal A Long Way from the Road, plus later variations on that theme by groups like The Four Tellers and Crowbush. The latter’s cast included the late, great Frank Ledwell, Patrick’s dad — professor, storyteller, gentleman, poet laureate and patriarch of PEI’s preternaturally accomplished Ledwell clan. 

Funnier and far sillier than his father, Patrick seems more comfortable in the spotlight; but he shares his dad’s common touch, keen wit, and keen eye for the unique aspects of Island life, even if father and son expressed their insights quite differently. Probably the most touching part of ISR is a bit where Patrick recites his father’s poem “John of the Island” accompanied by Haines playing an original composition for cello, a sweetly wistful fusion of words and music spanning genres and generations. 

It’s not the only played-straight, low-key grace note here — Haines leads the audience in a genuinely stirring sing-along of his great original tune “I’m on My Way” for instance, a dreamy ode to quixotic homecomings — but most of the show is fast-paced, funny, high-energy hijinks. 

Comedy-wise, this includes Ledwell’s dissection of Maritime linguistic oddities, his fake news show Compost, extensive musings on Islanders’ relations with the mainland in general and Halifax & Moncton in particular, and proposed PEI-centric reboots of beloved Canadian TV classics like Mr. Dress-Up and the Littlest Hobo (here’s hoping for Mighty Hercules and Rocket Robin Hood next year). 

Haines may be the musical pro, but Ledwell also plays multiple instruments, and the pair often jams together. The show’s playlist is a mix of covers like Ron Hynes’ “Love is Murder on Your Heart” and original tunes such as Haines’ funny, disturbingly familiar tribute to forgetfulness “What the Heck Did I Come in Here For?” and the duo’s clever, verbally nimble “Call Me Pal” song about trying to remember names in a province where everybody supposedly knows everybody. It all adds up to a memorably hilarious show.

Haunted Georgetown

Ghost Town 

Review by Sean McQuaid 

It’s Thursday night at the historic Kings Playhouse in Georgetown, PEI. An ornate black podium looms above the audience as swirling wisps of fog and the faint strains of eerie music fill the dimly lit air. Eventually, the stage lighting turns blood red as a cloaked, hooded figure appears like the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come. 

The apparition pivots, strides slowly but purposefully downstage and takes the podium as the spectators stiffen in anticipation. Turning its gaze toward the audience, the phantasm doffs its hood – and reveals the friendly, familiar face of Playhouse executive director Catherine O’Brien. “Oh thank goodness” whispers one young patron, exhaling gratefully. 

Thus begins Haunted Georgetown, “a guided walk through the haunted theatre and into the historic streets of Georgetown.” The original playhouse was built in the 1880s and the town itself dates back to the 1700s, so plenty of spooky legends and ghostly tales have developed over time. The Kings Playhouse conducts a fun walking tour built around these stories, told here by O’Brien with assistance from interns Destiny Best and Morgan Duncan. 

O’Brien fares well as host, smoothly paced and alternately solemn or playful as the material and the moment requires. The staging is mostly effective, though they might consider investing in a less prosaic prop to house O’Brien’s speaking notes – whether she’s in or out of hooded wraith mode, a garden-variety binder doesn’t quite suit the ghostly mood, though that’s an exceedingly minor quibble in the grand scheme of things. 

I’ve visited the playhouse since childhood as audience member, performer, reporter and so on, hearing many eerie stories: tales of inexplicably moving objects, flickering lights, clutching hands, disembodied whispering voices and the like. Older theatres tend to spawn such yarns. While I’ve yet to experience anything solidly supernatural in the playhouse myself, I did have a quasi-spectral experience in another old theatre once, so maybe ghosts just like drama. 

The feeling seems more than mutual, the playhouse having warmly embraced its supernatural elements. One ghost affectionately dubbed “Captain George” has a seat officially reserved for him in the theatre, and anyone else sitting in it reportedly sparks misfortunes or malfunctions. O’Brien’s ghostly presentation begins with Captain George and other phenomena specific to the theatre, tales of swaying chandeliers, erratic lights, physics-defying playing cards and more. 

Paranormal investigators, psychics and ghost-hunting TV shows have all visited this theatre and tend to come away believing something unearthly is present, perhaps in part because the building was constructed atop an old burial ground (always a red flag in the movies). O’Brien spends much of the Haunted Georgetown show beyond the theatre, however, leading her audience outside to spots like the public gardens, the courthouse and various historic properties, sharing a mix of ghost stories, true crime tales and other local legends. 

Strolling the streets at night adds a lot to the experience as O’Brien speaks of phantom soldiers, flickering street lights, the Minnie McGee murders, disembodied voices, historic hangings, the old funeral parlour, a ghostly girl seeking her lost baby and a doomed sailing vessel’s tragic tale of fatal prophecy. 

Half the fun of the outdoor segment is its unpredictability – wind, rain, animals, shadows, voices, noises, you never know what you might encounter in the dark. As we walk, a nearby church bell rings for no apparent reason, much like the bell in one of O’Brien’s stories. They say that’s never happened before, and as a newly wide-eyed Duncan edges nervously closer to O’Brien, you tend to believe them.

Best of The Island Fringe Festival

Dynamic Duos 

Review by Sean McQuaid 

Most years at the Island Fringe, I can narrow my favourite show down to one or two contenders by the end of the festival. This year, three shows were pretty much neck-and-neck in my affections come the end: Cardboard Countess, Half a Star and Wild Card.

All three plays have something in common beyond quality entertainment: they’re either two-handers or shows with larger casts totally dominated by two lead roles. It’s been a good summer for dynamic duos at the Fringe. 

That includes real-life mother-daughter duo Victoria & Carson Goring from British Columbia, creators of The Cardboard Countess. Victoria plays the titular Countess, a refuse-clad homeless woman who lives in a “palace” fashioned from repurposed garbage, hoarding surprising treasures in a stash of cardboard boxes. 

The high-minded, anachronistically fancy-talking Countess sees her “kingdom” as a revolution against the world’s soulless materialism, consumption and corruption; sullen teen Ever (Carson) is contemptuously skeptical at first, but the mismatched pair ultimately bond as Ever starts coming around to the Countess’s way of thinking. 

Smart, funny, poignantly sad yet ultimately hopeful, and well-played by both Gorings, The Cardboard Countess is linguistically playful and whimsically inventive. I particularly like the recurring bits where the Countess’s madness enables her to perceive and address the audience, a fun metadramatic gimmick that ultimately has a meaningful payoff. 

Half a Star is more straightforward, but no less full of smarts and heart. Longtime friends and theatrical collaborators during their years together in PEI, Justin Shaw (now based in Alberta) and Benton Hartley are reunited here, playing a theatrical duo whose longtime friendship and creative partnership ended after a scathing Toronto Star review panned their dismal Pyramus and Thisbe play. Given a shot at redemption when they get a chance to redo their show, the ex-partners try to revive their career and rebuild their friendship.  

Co-written by Hartley and Shaw, Half a Star features some of the cleverest, funniest dialogue of this year’s Fringe, delivered with rat-a-tat precision by a super-simpatico acting combo. Their lines are packed with eclectic, oft-amusing references ranging from Shakespeare to pro wrestling to local colour (paging Whisperwood Villa), all rooted in two distinctly drawn characters locked in a conflict with real emotional stakes and more than a few touching moments. It’s so good, not even its deeply problematic venue (the noisy, distracting Charlottetown Legion space) can seriously sabotage it. 

Last but far from least, Wild Card features its writer/director Brynn Cutcliffe as Chris, an impish free thinker who embarks on a unique experiment: declaring herself and her platonic friend Will (Josh Graetz) to be in love, and trying to make it really happen by sheer mental force of will. Their ensuing awkward, occasionally sweet pseudo-courtship takes some weird turns, such as discussion of quantum physics theories about the “multiverse” or potentially infinite parallel worlds, which perhaps explains why the show spins into a series of sometimes-conflicting versions of Chris-Will interactions as if watching this play out in assorted alternate realities. 

It’s a thoughtful, funny, original romance featuring a pair of thoroughly charming leads – and if it doesn’t always make logical, linear sense, well, as Cutcliffe’s script contends, no subject is worth studying if you can fully understand it. 

Realizations

This is Her Life 

Review by Sean McQuaid 

Like some of the other shows at this year’s Island Fringe Festival, Realizations is dark, brave and quasi-autobiographical. Staged by Small Town Queer Menace Productions, this play explores issues regarding rape culture and forging one’s own sexual identity, as written by Kandace Hagen and directed by Rory Starkman. Based in part on incidents from Hagen’s own life, it’s a bigger, more ambitious play than most of its semi-autobiographical festival siblings, more complex and more complete. 

Advance publicity sometimes made the show sound like a humourless, eat-your-vegetables slog of earnest social activism. One blurb, for instance, describes it as “a transitional story that exposes the politics and negotiation of one’s sexual awakening in a culture that is controlled by heteronormativity.” Activism is definitely part of the mix here, but it’s wrapped in a pretty well-written, very well-performed, often entertaining story about long-closeted lesbian Molly’s lifelong quest for self-acceptance, complicated by repeated incidents of sexual harassment and assault. 

The quantity and variety of sexual predation Molly contends with feels excessive — like, we’re talking Perils of Pauline levels of serial misfortune here — but Hagen’s writing keeps the individual incidents and Molly’s reactions to them unique enough that this recurring thread doesn’t become tedious or repetitive, though it’s often uncomfortable (as it should be). 

Starkman’s set — assorted clusters of furniture and set dressing representing a shifting array of times and places — is dominated by stacks of boxes representing Molly’s memories, which she literally unpacks for us as she tells her stories. It’s a visually interesting concept that serves as an effective framing sequence through which Molly narrates much of the show. 

Molly, incidentally, is played by two actors: Marli Trecartin as present-day Molly, also our de facto narrator; and Hannah McGaughey as the younger Molly of yesteryear. Both do a very good job here, crafting a character who’s funny and charming and appealing while capturing all the pain and fear and anger that comes along with this troubled life. 

All six supporting stars are solid, most of them playing multiple roles. Standouts include Kate Dempsey’s cheerful Toni, whose warm chemistry with Trecartin’s Molly helps make Molly’s lone happy romance work; comedic gem Cameron MacDonald flexing his drama muscles capably as assorted appalling scumbags; Richard Haines bringing the creepy as two very different flavours of sexual predator; Sophie MacLean’s beguiling turn as Molly’s first female crush; and Rachel MacLeod’s earthily comedic chops as Molly’s blunt gal pal Lydia. 

Speaking of comedic, local stand-up comic Sam MacDonald is the biggest revelation in this cast. He’s surprisingly genuine and entirely effective here in a purely dramatic, wincingly uncomfortable role as Molly’s final, hapless male love interest Marcus, the only person slower to recognize and accept Molly’s true sexuality than Molly herself. It’s painful to watch, impressively so. 

In other painful watching news, the spacious, air-conditioned Charlottetown Yoga Space is a pretty nice Fringe venue overall, but sight lines were sometimes pretty terrible further back in the audience — depending on blocking, future shows may need to find some way to elevate their playing area. Infrastructural quibbling aside, though, Realizations is one of the more impressive offerings of this year’s Fringe roster.

Events Calendar

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Some Upcoming Events

Rolston String Quartet

February 21
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Harbourfront Players March 1–2 & 8–10 
Harbourfront Theatre The Harbourfront Players p [ ... ]

PEI Symphony Orchestra

Guest conductor Dina Gilbert will lead  February 24
Zion Church  The PEI Symphony Or [ ... ]

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