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Put on the Spot


Review by Kelly McLean

Have you ever been thrown into the spotlight with all eyes on you, waiting for you to perform? That must be how Rob McLean, Matt Rainnie, Rob MacDonald and Ed Rashed feel every Monday night this summer when they perform 4Play Live Without a Net at the Charlottetown Arts Guild. It's two hours of unrehearsed, hilarious comedy.

These actors have no lines to rehearse or memorize. Instead they take suggestions for skits from the audience who toss ideas into an old cowboy hat that's passed around. Then they begin in no special order. One actor takes the stage and when another picks up on the premise that has been layed, he joins in. It's a raw and spontaneous form of acting which leaves the audience without a clue to what might happen. Whatever comes into these actors minds rolls off the tip of their tongues. As you can imagine, this is adult entertainment not suited for the easily offended or faint of heart.

So you've seen lots of TV improv shows (Whose Line is it Anyway?) and find them a bit contrived. They seem to work out perfectly every time. Well, you're not going to see that at 4 Play. Part of the charm of this performance is that you will witness scenarios that go nowhere, and lines that just don't make it. This doesn't seem to put unnecessary stress on the actors, nor does it make the audience uncomfortable. The failed attempt is laughed at and on with the show.

Unlike many plays and performances 4Play encourages the audience to participate. In fact it is an integral part of the success of the show. You are urged to yell out suggestions and at times to join the actors on stage.

So, if you feel like being entertained, or want to be part of the entertainment, I suggest a hilarious evening with 4Play.

Sitting on my Sofa


Review by Kelly McClean

Players, a two-act indie production running at Myrons Cabaret, was written by locals Graham Putnam, Jason Rogerson and Josh Weale and is based on today's pop culture and how it is taking over our lives. Have you ever been caught up in TV, computers, movies etc, then raised your head to find that days, weeks, or even months have drifted by while you lazed around in your hum drum world? If so, you'll think twice about these things-all while having a good laugh during this clever and witty play.

The eight-person cast untangles a tale of a young man caught in a dead end job and an even more dead end relationship. Along the way it looks at hopes and dreams and finds broken hearts. These are heavy topics examined in a dry and brutally honest style, yet with a lot of humour.

The sets, designed by Graham Putnam, are simple and realistic. (I'm sure we've all had our share of apartments with old beat up couches, posters on the walls, and flags for curtains.) But the action doesn't all take place on stage. The cast members perform different scenes in various locations in and around the cabaret amidst the audience. This is a great way to keep the viewers attention, and to make the most of the space available.

Don't be surprised if during Players you feel a pang of guilt for knowing the Party of Five family tree, or for being able to quote lines and catch phrases from any number of network sitcoms. Perhaps you'll break into a sweat when you realize that maybe your life is as stagnant as that of some of these characters. If so then I think that the writers and actors have made their point. Get out of your chair and into the real world. "Leave the sidelines, and become player."

One last note for all you pop culture fanatics-I recognize that there is a time and a place for sitting around and soaking in a day's worth of MTV, or unlimited internet hours. Heck, if it wasn't for pop culture this satire on life in the 90s and today would never have been made. But it's time to get off your couch and head down to Myron's Cabaret to enjoy a real live evening of fun.

A Visit with Dice Mob

A look at the rap scene in Charlottetown

by Kelly McClean

It seems that every time you turn on MuchMusic, you see a rap artist doing his or her thing-driving a big car, wearing fancy jewellery, and surrounded with lots of dancing women. Up until recently this genre of music wasn't represented here on PEI but now seven young Charlottetown men are taking it on.

Dice Mob (Eric Broadbent, Tom Biggar, and John Michael Kelley), Evil Consequence (Jeff Gallant and Kyle Francis), and Basemint (Tyler Gallant and Ray Corkum) are three closely linked Charlottetown rap groups who work both independently of one another, as well as joining forces to form The Basemint Crew. I met with Broadbent and Bigger, from Dice Mob, in early January to find out more.

Dice Mob formed officially in January of 1999 but members had been together, on and off, since 1992. That is about the time when they began to listen to rap music, becoming influenced by artists such as Tribe Called Quest, Beastie Boys, Maestro Fresh Wes, and NWA. Broadbent says he recognizes that they are just "two white rappers from PEI" and makes it clear that they rap about what they know, and their daily surroundings, rather than the all too common topics-guns, gangs, and violence. Biggar adds that it's all about coming up with "clever lyrics, and good rhymes" not about portraying the thug image.

All three members of Dice Mob are also DJs. Broadbent creates backing beats by sampling records. "I'll sit in my room for an hour or two making beats," states Broadbent. "We get together to sort through it and see what we like. Our formula is to start with a good drum loop."

Once they have their material ready to go, Dice Mob run into a problem that most Charlottetown musicians faceā€“lack of venues (especially for underage shows and for bands who perform all original material). They've played the Parkdale Fire Hall (the new Boys and Girls Club), Barney's, Mike's Sports Bar and GenXX in Summerside. Broadbent and Biggar both agree that the opportunities to play these venues are few and far between. "It's a desperate scene," says Broadbent. "My dad's a musician (Paul Broadbent), so I've always known that if you want to make money, you don't play here."

Nonetheless, these guys plan to continue rapping and hope to release their debut CD, yet to be titled, in February 2000. Shortly after that they plan to form their own independent label to assist other musicians. They also want to take their act to the city of Halifax where there is a growing hip hop scene with artists like Stinkin Rich, Platoon, Classified, and good ole Hip Club Groove. Not only do they hope to gain respect off-Island, but, eventually, right here in their own province.

When asked what they think about the ECMAs, both replied, "we'd love to win an award." After all, it would mean that they helped to spread and popularize rap and hip hop here in Atlantic Canada.

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