Saturday, 5 May 2012

Another fool moon

I don't know why it is that I seem to attend performances of A Company of Fools on full moons.  It's appropriate, but not planned.

This particular evening, we had only a few blocks to walk,  past young basketball players in the street and  people sitting on their front porches sipping beer bottles, on a Friday evening that had suddenly changed from lowering skies and fat intermittent rain drops to slanting golden sunshine.  We strolled down to the United Church hall and took our places in line behind a man in wildly printed trousers and scarlet socks beneath his sandal straps.  And he was an audience member.

The night's offering was Shakespeare's Dead.  So apparently was the leading man, whose portrait glowered from the stage in a very Barrymore fashion.  As the three Fools (AL Connors -- first name not a typo, Margo MacDonald and Scott Florence) informed us, in varying degrees of sorrow, the late leading man had had a passion for Shakespeare matched only by his passion for Jack Daniels, and both had had a hand in his demise.

Things got a little weird after that, which is business as usual for the Fools.  Anyway, Scott Florence's character (named Brie after the cheese) ended up ingesting the cremated remains of the Barrymore look-alike and being possessed by the spirit of William Shakespeare, and if you find that preposterous, you have no business attending a Company of Fools show.

One thing led to another:  Romeo and Juliet performed in rap; Macbeth as a musical (younger daughter loved the parodies of West Side Story, South Pacific, and The Wizard of Oz); and a dizzying parade of bloody Shakespearean deaths which involved the actors hauling yards and yards of scarlet rags from various parts of their clothes.  (I guess you could say the deaths were fabricated -- ahem -- fabricated -- oh, never mind...)

Perhaps most surreal of all was a murder scene from Richard III.  Actually,  I'm not sure if it was Richard III; I kind of lost my concentration amid the flying cat toys.  See, the trio explained that if an audience in Shakespeare's time wanted to express their antipathy towards the villains in the piece, they would hurl vegetables, fruit, and live kittens.  To forestall the evening's audience from indulging in something too similar, they handed out a large variety of cat toys which then hit the stage and, frequently, the actors with soft thuds and disconcerting squeaks.  It was also at this point that a handful of younger audience members (in the eight-to-twelve-year range, I'd say) who had, so far, restricted themselves to smart-alecky remarks and throwing themselves to the floor in death throes, threw restraint to the winds along with their cat toys and scrambled on stage to retrieve them in order to hurl them again.  Not a word from their dignified parents, but frankly, it's that kind of neighbourhood.  The Fools had to intervene for themselves.

The night's entertainment ended with, naturally, the dance sequence from Michael Jackson's Thriller.  It made some sort of sense at the time.

The Resident Fan Boy looked askance at the number and denomination of bills that I thrust into a waiting Fool's cap, but, dammit, a Company of Fools is one of the few things that almost makes coming to Ottawa worthwhile.  Well, nothing about Hades is worthwhile, but the Fools come close.

We left the hall and were confronted by the "Super Moon" which reaches its fullest splendour tonight.  About now, actually.  I'd better go take a look.

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