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Pottery in the Park

The fall session of pottery classes at the PEI Potters Studio in Victoria Park, Charlottetown will b [ ... ]

Camp Dynamo

Camp Dynamo, presented by the PEI Business Women’s Association, takes place September 28–30 at D [ ... ]

Jesus Christ Superstar

Faithful and Fresh

Review by Sean McQuaid

In the beginning, lyricist Tim Rice and composer Andrew Lloyd Webber created the 1970 rock opera concept album Jesus Christ Superstar. Strong album sales said: "Let there be a 1971 Broadway musical version." It was fruitful and multiplied, producing many revivals and adaptations both staged and filmed; and in its 47th year, director Adam Brazier remounted it at the Charlottetown Festival...and your rapt reviewer saw that it was good. 

Pretty darn good, actually. My decades-long affection for this show makes it hard for new productions to surprise or impress after so many versions spanning so many years; but Brazier's take, both faithful and fresh, nails most of the essential JCS elements while doing a few things differently or better than many past incarnations of this musical. 

Credible as the gentle, serene everyday Jesus, Festival veteran Aaron Hastelow excels in the story’s darker moments: furious in “The Temple”, agonizing over his impending doom in “Gethsemane” (my new all-time favourite version of that number) and viscerally anguished during his torture and crucifixion, a sequence harrowingly-yet-artfully staged by Brazier, choreographer Linda Garneau and lighting designer Michael Walton. It’s a bravura performance, emotionally moving and often vocally spectacular. 

Lee Siegel as Judas crafts many of the show’s biggest musical “wow” moments with his own powerhouse vocals, though his numbers don’t always fully connect for me emotionally, as if the imposing wall of sound he generates obscures some of his character’s subtler emotional shadings. Also an occasional factor for Siegel and others like Tara Jackson (a darkly intense Annas) is an intermittent issue with audio balance: music director Craig Fair’s deftly hard-rocking orchestra is great, but sometimes the actors’ lyrics get lost in the instrumentals. 

Most of the songs are clearly articulated, including fine versions of fan-favourites “Everything’s Alright” and “I Don’t Know How to Love Him” featuring Mary Magdalene, played poignantly here by a sweet-voiced Hailey Gillis, whose wistfully melancholy “Could We Start Again, Please?” duet with Jacob MacInnis (a very fine Peter) is the best version of that particular musical number I’ve seen. 

Other standouts in the cast include a suitably sonorous Greg Gale as Caiaphas and a superb Cameron MacDuffee in the plum role of King Herod; his lone song is a show-stopping treat thanks to some gleefully inventive choreography, MacDuffee’s cheerfully louche performance and some vividly memorable costuming by designer Cory Sincennes, whose sparkly, bearded Herod reads like a surreal glam rock Zeus.  

Speaking of plum roles, a sunny Andrew McAllister could use a bit more edge as militant apostle Simon while Brendan Wall fares less well as Pontius Pilate, exuding imperious authority and not much else. Wall or Brazier may have been shooting for subtlety here, but what we get is a Pilate seemingly devoid of subtext whose inner conflict is only apparent once the script makes it outwardly explicit. 

There’s a lot to like in the overall production, though, such as Sincennes’ set, dominated by looming pillars and high, cell-like window frames that imprison or expose the actors depending on the moment; it’s an imposing yet versatile space and Brazier deploys his larger ensemble well within it, crafting energetic, oft-frenetic crowds whose singing, dancing, adoring/menacing presence helps keep the show moving and consistently energized. 

Thoughtful, entertaining and inventive, Jesus Christ Superstar is the best new addition to the Festival’s mainstage since 2015’s Alice Through the Looking Glass — and for Island audiences, there’s never been a better time to come to Jesus. 

—On stage at Homburg Theatre in Charlottetown to September 22, 2018. 

Skin Flick

Movie Night 

Review by Sean McQuaid 

Fun fact: Comic book publishers of yesteryear discouraged their scripters from using the word "flick." See, the comics' typical hand-lettered allcaps font, coupled with cheap printing methods and pulp paper, posed a risk of the "L" and "I" blurring together such that "FLICK" might become a less family-friendly word. 

Recalling that, the title of Norm Foster's 2009 comedy Skin Flick (newly staged at the Watermark Theatre by ACT) feels uniquely apt, featuring as it does both the execution and the utterance of FLICK's dark counterpart. Yet despite or because of the seamy subject matter, this is one of Foster's smartest and funniest plays. 

Married couple Rollie & Daphne (played nicely here by director Keir Malone and Marti Hopson) lead amiably dull workaday lives until Rollie loses his job. Facing financial ruin, they team with Rollie's sketchy pal, lecherous ex-TV cameraman Alex (Noah Nazim), to produce a pornographic film for quick cash. Uninhibited, unemployed actress Jill (Jenna Marie) signs on as their star, and Alex's weirdly soft-hearted bookie Byron (Alex Arsenault) joins the project hoping to recoup some of the money Alex owes him. 

Fittingly enough for a play about video, Foster enables his play's narrator (usually Rollie) to rewind, fast forward and even edit the play's action, such as blanking out some of the swearing, a fun gimmick well executed by the cast in terms of both the actors' split-second timing and the characters' repeated puzzlement over what's happening. 

Foster's self-aware script gives the characters in general and the narrator in particular direct or indirect asides to the audience, and it's especially well-suited to such an intimate performance space. Malone's direction keeps the blocking suitably tight yet intermittently interactive, perhaps most memorably when a quasi-sensual Hopson-Marie clinch practically spills into a patron's lap. Whether amused, confused or even uncomfortable, the crowd is always engaged. 

Foster's text walks a tricky moral tightrope here but the tone stays light throughout, partly because these appealing characters are mostly nice people (give or take an Alex) despite their dabbling in an ugly business. The play itself, for that matter, is not as naughty as one might expect. For all its salty language and murky morals, the story never turns nasty and there's no real nudity; and while this is now the second ACT play I've seen involving on-stage fondling (what an age we live in), even that moment is played for awkward comedy and pathos rather than cheap thrills. 

ACT's game cast all have strong comedy chops but they also find moments of surprising sweetness in the text, especially Arsenault and Marie. Nazim is perhaps the least naturalistic actor here, but he's playing the show's cartooniest character, so it's partly a function of the role; and while his oft-intense eyes flirt with overacting early on, he eases into a subtler yet funnier groove as the show goes on.  

Marie is winningly charming and funny in her biggest ACT role to date, but Arsenault narrowly edges her out to score the inaugural (albeit imaginary) Colm Meaney Award for bit player turned breakout star. Excellent in smaller parts in past ACT productions, Arsenault steals scene after scene here. He's genuine, understated, sympathetic and often hilarious, alchemically transmuting low-key line readings like Byron's enthusiasm for a breath mint into comedy gold. Performances like that help make ACT’s Skin Flick a night to remember.

Popalopalots 26-hour Improv Marathon

Open all night

Reviewby Sean McQuaid

Your semiconscious scribbler slept sparingly this past Easter weekend, thanks in part to the Popalopalots improv comedy troupe. In 2016, the group improvised for 26 hours straight as a fundraiser for the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, and they did it again on March 30-31 this year to raise more money for the QEH.

Most of the original marathon’s survivors were back, including troupe founders Rob MacDonald, Dylan Miller and Graham Putnam, plus Jordan Cameron, Kelly Caseley and Cameron MacDonald. Making it a magnificent seven was recent recruit Kassinda Bulger in her Popalopathon debut.

(I’m not sure if “Popalopathon” is the event’s proper name—some of the promotional material refers to it as the “Popalopalots 26-hour Improv Marathon”—but troupe members have used the “Popalopathon” term, it’s short and catchy, and it sounds like a potential Creature Cantina background character or something, so I’m embracing the shorter title.)

The Popalopathon offers the troupe’s usual freewheeling comedic pizzazz, plus the sadistically fascinating spectacle of human beings pushed past their mental, emotional and physical limits for entertainment purposes. As the audience guffawed its way through the final, grueling hours, my thoughts drifted back to The Simpsons and spectator Hans Moleman shouting at a kids’ hockey game: “We paid for blood!”

Not much bloodshed this year, though, figurative or otherwise. I only saw about eight hours of the marathon spread across several visits (family commitments made watching the complete show impossible), but the performers seemed to be holding up better this year in the segments I watched, including the finale. They seemed a bit less punchy this time (give or take Cameron MacDonald walking into a wall at one point), and definitely less randomly surly.

They were even managing some pretty technically tricky games late in the marathon, like the “split screen” gimmick where two different sets of three actors perform simultaneous, interlocking versions of the same scene on two separate halves of the stage; the cast of the scene changes whenever an actor walks into the stage left wings and his or her counterpart walks on from stage right (or vice versa) and picks up where the first actor left off.

Actors took occasional breaks, whether deliberate ones offstage or less deliberate ones onstage; Jordan and Dylan in particular power-napped their way through parts of certain scenes, which may have been partly where they both got the energy for some artfully deft balloon dueling late in the game.

Sister troupe Side Hustle joined the Popalopalots for part of Saturday afternoon, featuring hustlers Sarah Brown, Jill Chandler, Patti Larsen and Monica Rafuse (this writer’s sister). The infusion of fresh energy helped, and the guest stars performed well. Rob complimented the hustlers on their pantomime object work (quite strong), and the Larsen-Rafuse duo executed a commendably coherent, compact, tightly crafted alphabet sketch.

Popalopathon 2018 had categories of games/topics scheduled for each 30 or 60-minute block, ranging from staples like “Follow That Character” (Jordan and Kelly dominated as a quivery alien and his crusty manager, respectively) or improvised songs (Jordan and Cameron’s tale of socialist sea monkey dystopia was equal parts funny, disturbing and poignant) to weirder segments like family-friendly improv fairy tales (my preteen daughter and niece helped with those) or Rob discussing his 20 favourite numbers between one and 100 (seriously, I watched that happen circa 1 AM for 30-plus minutes).

This more structured approach may have helped sustain momentum and morale, and definitely guaranteed a wide variety of material. Not every game or sketch clicked, but these seven brave souls and their collaborators scored a lot of laughs and raised a lot of money for a good cause.

The Sunset Limited

McFadden2 

Review by Sean McQuaid 

Two McFaddens enter, one leaves. Not as grimly gladiatorial as it sounds, but still an accurate summary of the spectacle on offer at The Guild this January, where accomplished father-son acting duo William and Corin McFadden starred in AMS Entertainment’s production of The Sunset Limited, directed by Mahdi Selseleh. 

Written by acclaimed long-time novelist and infrequent playwright Cormac McCarthy in 2006, The Sunset Limited is a verbally playful yet emotionally bleak two-hander featuring a spirited, spiritual debate between a pair of unidentified strangers, a suicidal intellectual (played here by William “Bill” McFadden) and a working class, born-again Christian ex-con (Corin McFadden) who prevents him from leaping in front of the titular Sunset Limited train. 

Dubbed “White” and “Black” in the McCarthy script (echoing the skin colours of the play’s 2006 original cast), the characters debate the meaning of life (or lack thereof) and the ethics of exiting same, with Black Corin trying to keep White Bill in his dingy apartment long enough to talk Bill out of his death wish. 

It’s not the feel-good play of the millennium. McCarthy’s “White” is like the dour humanoid antithesis of those “Hang in there, baby” motivational kitten posters, a despairing bundle of nihilistic bon mots who says life’s only redeeming feature is its inevitable end, a consummation he wishes for devoutly and eloquently. 

The script’s undeniable pleasures, however, include the wry comic chemistry of McCarthy’s Black-and-White dialogue, with some laudably luminous turns of phrase amidst the all-consuming darkness. This play is nearly two hours of two guys arguing about death, but it’s engaging, thought-provoking, even entertaining for most of that span. This isn’t conceptually ground-breaking — self-destructively depressed smarty-pants antiheroes have been theatrical staples since Hamlet — but McCarthy’s words sell it. 

The McFadden duo don’t always seem sure of those words — Bill even spends much of the play sequentially browsing a multi-page document apparently unrelated to the action, as if consulting notes or a script — but the emotional content of the performance is mostly on point. Bill brings a gravelly, bone-weary gravitas to his part that fits his role snugly while Corin’s prickly energy helps keep things moving and generates some of the play’s more memorable moments. 

That energy can be a double-edged sword — for instance, Corin’s take on his character feels oddly hostile in spots given Black’s benevolent intentions — but that may be a directorial issue as much as an acting one. There are some odd choices here, like Bill shouting a line about whispering where quiet intensity might have worked better, though such considerations are admittedly subjective. 

Director Selseleh handles this dark play capably. The simple set is sufficient to evoke Black’s shabby apartment, the mostly well-deployed music and sound effects help cement both mood and setting, and some suitably stark, elegantly simple graphics used in the play’s promos as well as an opening screen projection set an aptly ominous tone. 

Some acting oddities make it a bumpy ride in spots, but the script is smart enough, the McFaddens’ overall performances are strong enough and the production as a whole solid enough that assorted obstacles never quite derail The Sunset Limited

Shop Shape

The Shop Around the Corner

Review by Sean McQuaid 

Until recently, I’d never visited The Shop Around the Corner — which is weird, since it sits at the intersection of two of your old-timey opiner’s favourite avenues of entertainment: Christmas stories and Jimmy Stewart movies. 

The original 1940 film’s been on my cultural to-do list for ages now — I’ve even had a copy of the movie on my DVR for about a year — but somehow or other I’d just never gotten around to it. Then ACT produced a stage version of the show this fall, which posed an intriguing dilemma: watch the movie and then see the play, or vice versa? 

Play before film, I decided, wanting to see the stage show with fresh eyes devoid of preconceptions or comparisons. So I attended the play after work on a Friday night, and watched the movie later that weekend. Both versions were quite enjoyable, in sometimes surprisingly different ways. 

ACT’s play, the Jimmy Stewart film and various other versions such as 1998’s You’ve Got Mail are all adapted from 1930s play Parfumerie, a reworking of Hungarian play Illatszertar by Miklos Laszlo (a.k.a. Nikolaus Laszlo). Screenwriter Samson Raphaelson and director Ernst Lubitsch concocted the first film version of Laszlo’s story in 1940 with The Shop Around the Corner

Bringing things full circle, Mariève MacGregor recently converted the 40s flick back into a play by transcribing and adapting Raphaelson’s script for the stage, directing and choreographing ACT’s ensuing production as well. The result is one of the most self-assured, playfully inventive, impressively versatile shows in recent PEI community theatre. 

Set in 1936 Budapest, the play revolves around the shop Matuschek and Company, where capable, confident Alfred Kralik (Adam Gauthier) is senior salesman. The store’s paternally officious, oft-awkward owner Hugo Matuschek (Gordon Cobb) also employs sales clerks Pirovitch (Richard Haines), Flora (Marti Hopson) and Vadas (Mike Mallaley) plus errand boy Pepi Katona (Jim McClean), so Mr. Matuschek feels his little shop is overstaffed – but winsome go-getter Klara Novak (Teresa Wright) somehow talks herself into a sales job regardless. 

A testy rivalry develops between Kralik and Klara, complicated by an unwitting prior connection: they have been exchanging anonymous romantic letters for some time, each of them unaware that his or her dreamy pen pal is also that annoying jerk from work. Cue shenanigans. 

The Laszlo/Raphaelson story is a charming romantic comedy that doubles as a touching holiday tale with much of the action happening near Christmas, complete with the seasonal sideshow of a repentant Mr. Matuschek playing a store brand Scrooge of sorts after a crisis spurs him to new levels of generosity and sensitivity — a bit derivative, but heartwarming all the same. 

Cobb’s posturing early Matuschek seldom fully pops, but he’s quirkily affecting and genuine in much of the character’s later post-reformation scenes. McClean suffers from rushed delivery and fuzzy articulation in spots, but captures Pepi’s amiably lean-and-hungry hustle nicely. Mallaley’s a bit cartoonish as oily flatterer Vadas, but it’s a cartoonish character and the audience seems to love to hate him. He’s effective, as are Hopson’s Flora and literally too many other fine supporting players to mention in this space. 

Best of the batch are a glumly pathetic yet adroitly comedic Haines as wearily resigned wage slave Pirovitch and the Gauthier/Wright duo as the show’s thoroughly appealing, entertaining romantic leads, all of whom compare very favourably with their cinematic counterparts. Jimmy Stewart is the better Kralik by a nose, perhaps at least partially due to the broader palette of nuance film affords, but Gauthier gives the late icon a run for his money. 

Despite the Stewart edge, MacGregor’s play actually surpasses the film overall. However strong the movie’s story and cast might be, Lubitsch’s workmanlike direction is eclipsed by the colour, energy and imagination of MacGregor’s staging, including a fun period soundtrack full of early 20th Century pop music by the likes of Benny Goodman, the Memphis Five and King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band, and multiple dance numbers built around same. 

Those dance numbers are the play’s secret weapon, enjoyable as spectacle — ACT’s company executes them with winningly lively flair — but also as multi-purpose devices building atmosphere, covering scene changes, moving along the plot and even advancing character development, such as an early number that captures the dynamics of the shop in general and the Kralik-Klara relationship in particular with no dialogue required. Pretty fancy footwork.

Tragicomedy

A Misfortune 

Review by Sean McQuaid 

The Charlottetown Festival takes a lot of guff from critics about artistic integrity, cultural nationalism and such whenever they stage yet another recycled American jukebox musical (like the admittedly entertaining confection Million Dollar Quartet); but in the spirit of fair play, we grumpy media types should also take note when the Festival transcends commercial concerns to produce something uniquely artistic or Canadian or both. 

A Misfortune is just such a project. As its program notes, it’s the fourth original Canadian musical the Charlottetown Festival has produced in recent years (after a test run at the Toronto Next Stage Theatre Festival in 2014), and it’s an odd little tragicomic chamber musical based on an ambiguous, melancholy, blackly comical 19th Century short story about marital infidelity. Not exactly the Charlottetown Festival shaking its money-maker, to be sure. 

Set in pre-revolutionary Russia, the musical features young rural housewife Sofya (played by Kelsey Falconer) and young urban lawyer Ivan (Connor Lucas), an old friend who declares his love for Sofya during a walk in the woods. A conflicted Sofya rejects Ivan — which makes it awkward when her oblivious husband Andrey (Réjean Cournoyer) invites Ivan to a dinner party at their cabin that night. Shenanigans ensue, thanks in part to added friction generated by the other party guests, theatrically volatile bickering married couple Masha (Melanie Phillipson) and Pavel (Brendan Wall). 

Written by Kevin Michael Shea (book and additional lyrics), Wade Bogert-O'Brien (lyrics) and Scott Christian (music), and based on Anton Chekhov’s 1886 story of the same name, A Misfortune is broadly faithful to its source material. The musical’s biggest and best deviation from same is the invention of two entirely new characters, Masha and Pavel. 

The additional party guests in Chekhov’s original story are insignificant background characters, but Shea’s prominently featured Masha & Pavel add a lot of broad, lively comic relief to a potentially bleak story, and their deeply dysfunctional but genuinely passionate relationship offers a vividly telling contrast to Sofya’s emotionally hollow marriage. 

However entertainingly the Phillipson/Wall duo chews the scenery, the funniest character in the show may actually be Andrey — paradoxically, also perhaps the saddest character. Proper and practical, stubbornly clueless and relentlessly dull, Andrey’s an older man who has settled into a comfortable rut devoid of any romance or adventure, and he likes his life that way. 

Shea’s script milks a surprising amount of comedy from this, aided by the superb Cournoyer’s deadpan comic timing; but however pompously dense he might be, the musical’s Andrey is likeable enough (arguably more so than his Chekhov counterpart) that we never fully lose sight of the story’s tragic dimension as Sofya starts slipping away from him and their daughter. 

Falconer and Lucas are appealing romantic leads able to lather on the angst as required (though Falconer’s high notes seemed a bit shaky early on), the Shea/Bogert-O'Brien book & lyrics are often clever and amusing, and Christian’s music is well performed by his piano/flute/cello/violin quartet, even if most of the individual songs tend to blur together. 

Brian Smith’s set design, depicting Sofya & Andrey’s cabin and the surrounding woods, is attractive and functional. I especially like the vaguely impressionistic trees, even if one of them did visibly wobble a bit as Lucas wended his way between them. At 70 minutes it’s a short play, and a somewhat dark one given the subject matter; but Chekhov’s core story remains compelling, and the musical’s script as executed skillfully by director Eliza-Jane Scott and company adds a lot of entertainment value without undermining the original tale’s morally murky vision. 

—Plays select dates at The Mack to September 22, 2017. Tickets at www.confederationcentre.com.

Grappling Schnook

The Wrestling Play

Review by Sean McQuaid 

Island audiences tend to give standing ovations to just about everything, regardless of the quality of the play or the performance. I’ve seen standing ovations for merely good shows, okay shows, even downright crummy shows, as if PEI stood for “Proclaims Excellence Indiscriminately.” 

These vertical ovationists presumably mean well, but the cumulative effect of all this randomized reverence is to cheapen standing ovations so much that they become meaningless. As such, your contrary critic tends to shun standing ovations on principle. I’ve probably participated in fewer than ten over the past decade. 

Like universal standing ovations, Justin Shaw is a product of the Island theatre scene. He’s spent much of the past several years working and studying in Quebec and Alberta, recently hired as artistic director of indie company Theatre; Just Because in Fort McMurray; but before that, he was a familiar face in Charlottetown through gigs with the UPEI Theatre Society, Vagabond Productions, ACT, aBigWHAT, the Popalopalots and more, including fine work in last year's Island Fringe Festival as the star of Nutshell

Shaw's career comes full circle at this year's Island Fringe, where he stars in a one-man comedy that he wrote and workshopped in Montreal, rehearsed in Alberta and brought home to PEI for its world premiere in a makeshift wrestling ring assembled in Rochford Square. 

The Wrestling Play is Shaw's debut as a playwright, and it's an impressive first effort. TWP stars Shaw as Charles, an unhappy English teacher who quits his job to pursue a career in pro wrestling. His ensuing odyssey entails physical injury, sexual exploitation, emotional trauma, pharmaceutical misadventure and more than a little public humiliation, all of it entertaining. 

It’s an always ridiculous, occasionally dark, surprisingly surreal, frequently hilarious tale, and strangely moving in terms of how much heart Charles brings to his story in general and his ludicrous dream job in particular. Shaw’s script also dabbles in metadramatic quirk, allowing Charles to interact with the audience, comment on storytelling mechanics and even mess with his underlying reality, suggesting alternate endings and questioning his own identity. 

Quixotic, neurotic and slightly deluded, Charles is a fascinating character — partly for the suspense and sympathy his self-destructive quest generates, but also because his all-consuming passion for this silly pseudo-sport is so charming, even infectious. Charles sees wrestling through eyes of enthusiastic, child-like wonder, such that it’s hard not to get swept along with him. 

It helps that he’s played by an engaged, intense, endlessly energetic Shaw. Years of stand-up and improv comedy have helped him hone a sense of comic timing and audience rapport ideal for this interactive show, and he gives an athletically and emotionally grueling marathon performance full of physical slapstick, wacky prop comedy, manic rants, wry humour and quiet desperation. It’s a bravura performance, probably the best of the 2017 Fringe, and I gladly joined in Shaw’s richly deserved standing ovation.

Just the Way It Is

He Said, She Said 

Review by Sean McQuaid 

There’s an old saw about writing what you know, and young local thespian Rory Starkman definitely walks that talk as the author/director/star of Just the Way It Is, one of the more intriguing entries in 2017’s Island Fringe Festival. 

A self-described “non-binary” person who identifies as neither male nor female, Starkman plays Maddox, who was born a girl as Maggie (played in flashbacks and visions by Olivia King) but eventually evolved into the more masculine Maddox. 

Starkman wrote the play, as the author’s self-penned program bio puts it, “to be seen and heard for the human being that I am” after years of hiding, and to promote compassion and understanding regarding gender-identity issues. 

As a confessional and as a public service effort, the play works fairly well — it’s a gutsy, mostly unglamorous look at a lifelong struggle to define one’s self in a world where the kind of change Maddox undergoes tends to be confusing and difficult. 

As drama, it’s a smidgen more hit-or-miss. While still sympathetic given the character’s inner struggle, Maddox is such an oft-obnoxious personality that it’s unclear what exactly Maddox’s preternaturally supportive girlfriend (played warmly yet somewhat stiffly by Justeann Hansen) sees in our protagonist, regardless of all the gender-related stuff. 

The off-puttingly angry, abrasive Maddox personality is partly the script, and it’s partly the performance. Starkman has long had a knack for playing seething sorts prone to explosive outbursts. While it’s well acted here and believably motivated, Maddox’s anger is somewhat gratingly repetitive within the play — and it also feels a bit overly familiar coming from this particular actor. 

King’s performance as Maggie is more interesting, more nuanced and — deliberately or not (I suspect not) — more appealing and sympathetically relatable than Starkman’s Maddox. King’s open, expressive face is fascinating, and her emotional range nails everything from awkward vulnerability and gnawing anxiety to playful whimsy and predatory menace. 

If King’s Maggie semi-subversively steals the show, the rest of the supporting cast is more of a mixed bag. Morgan Wagner and Ash Arsenault each play multiple parts, but while Wagner is versatile and effective in that capacity, Arsenault is a genial yet tediously one-note presence. 

The Charlottetown Firefighters Club isn’t an ideal theatrical venue — poor sight lines, stifling heat and lots of background noise — but adapting to odd spaces is a Fringe tradition, and Starkman’s company makes the best of it here in terms of projection and blocking. There are also flashes of inventive visual flair in the show’s props and physical action, producing memorable images such as a mummy-wrapped Maggie or a metaphorically-yet-visually sword-wielding Maddox. 

Earnestly agenda-driven, this is not a perfect play — but there’s a lot of heart, brains and more than a few laughs in this story. It’s one of the more intelligent, unique entries in this year’s Fringe Festival, and a worthy addition to Starkman’s growing list of commendable Fringe credits. 

Events Calendar

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Some Upcoming Events

Projections on the Plaza

Until September 29
Confederation Centre Plaza The public is invited to enjoy two outdoor film screen [ ... ]

Trailside Café 2018

Select dates
Trailside Café  Tomato/Tomato | September 21 Hang onto your hats because th [ ... ]

Culture days

Free activities on September 29 at the Confederation Centre Culture Days is a three-day nation-wide [ ... ]

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Charlottetown’s Historic Squares exhibit...

The City of Charlottetown Planning and Heritage Department has created an exhibit exploring the hist [ ... ]