Saturday, 26 January 2013

If you go down to the woods today

We like to support local theatre when we can. This was a musical at the Gladstone Theatre, featuring Zac Counsil, whom we had seen in a clever three-person adaptation of Macbeth last year, and the amazing Kris Joseph, who was one of the very best actors in Ottawa before he moved west to Edmonton. I knew next to nothing about this play -- it's a cult musical from the 1990s -- but we were warned: "Stage fog; prop guns; intercourse bears". Intercourse bears?

Well, the first half was quite entertaining. Even before the lights went down, the fog machine spewed interesting white billows across the black stage. Like real clouds, they floated into interesting shapes; one looked for all the world like the jaws of a smoky crocodile reaching out to snap the audience. When the show began, the acting was fine, and the singing strong. Kris Joseph, as expected, took over every scene he was in as the troubled doctor who saves the Bat Boy because he hopes this will save his marriage. (Things get nasty when it doesn't.) I was rather disappointed by the lack-lustre response of the audience; the cast was working so hard.

It all fell apart a bit after intermission. A young boy across the aisle who appeared to be about four, seemed to lose interest during the first musical number and started snapping pictures with his iPhone (or whatever it was -- he had been playing games on it during the intermission when the Resident Fan Boy heard him tell the couple behind him that his mum was in the cast). He snapped away steadily for about ten minutes until the man behind him firmly grasped his shoulders.

They lost me for good when the cute furry animals start copulating while singing about inter-species harmony. I saw the bears but didn't see them having intercourse. I was too busy trying not to watch a tiny bunny do unspeakable things to Grover the Monster. It's supposed to be funny and satirical; I thought it was gratuitous and over-the-top. This play is being marketed as "heart-warming".

After the big denouement, which involved a women being sexually assaulted by bats and a bit of inadvertent incest, I turned to the Resident Fan Boy and joked weakly: "My review for this would be: 'If you liked Avenue Q, you'll probably like this."

Back home, on Skype, we tried to explain to elder daughter in Halifax about the puppets having sex. Younger daughter gasped from the dinner table: "The puppets were having sex????"

Somehow, I don't think she's picking up much from the life discussions at her school.

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