Summerworks Picks 2014: Part 2

12 Aug

Some more fine productions now on stage at the 2014 SummerWorks festival!

HERO-LBaker_Perv_Face_300dpi-small-620x500Fuck You! You Fucking Perv!

Created and performed by powder blue-haired Leslie Baker, Fuck You! You Fucking Perv! bridges theatre with performance art while skirting some very dark and heavy sexual material in a delightfully manic way. Baker and her creative team make fantastic use of lighting blackouts and confrontational sound design, fragmenting her only loosely narrative and mood-swinging diatribe with ever-changing tableaus and cringe-inducing noises – with a little electro-swing thrown in for fun. Baker herself is a force of nature, often careening around the stage, wild-eyed and seemingly perpetually on the verge of a total meltdown. To call the piece “enjoyable” would not be accurate, but “daring” and “impressive” suit it just fine.

HERO-The-Good-Story-2-small-620x500The Good Story

This quiet and thoughtful work from playwright Alexa Gilker tells the story of Alex (Pippa Leslie), a mature and well-meaning young Christian missionary who, after unrooting herself and travelling to Mexico, Albania, and India to do good and spread the good word, discovers that the harsh realities of the world often trump good intentions. It’s a nuanced work that stays clear of melodrama while still being impactful. The story could use a little more room to breathe, especially with regards to Alex’s formative experiences in Mexico and Albania, both of which are passed over comparatively briefly.

Director Sandi Barrett keeps things simple and focused, and her talented young cast deliver solid performances. Leslie deserves mention for so aptly capturing Alex’s youthful determination, and a nod goes to Sehar Bhojani for her colourful portrayal of a pragmatic orphanage manager.

HERO-Recurring-John-option-2without-credits-small-620x500Recurring John

Part of the Musical Works in Concert Series, Kevin Wong’s Recurring John is a charming and ear-pleasing song cycle with a twist. The songs are performed by a series of characters, each of whom offers a glimpse into their own existence, but also – via references to their connection with or relationship to the titular character – collectively paint a narrative of his life. Most intriguing is that ‘John’ never actually appears before the audience, making it a sort of musical biography created out of negative space.

Wong’s compositions range from quiet and touching to brassy and toe-tapping, with lyrics that are elegant without being overly-precious. His orchestration is a real highlight, drawing a warm, rich, and plucky sound from his string-heavy ensemble. With a spectacular cast of performers and impressive direction (considering the limitations of the presentation) from Jeff Madden, it’s a shame that the work only gets two same-day performances. Here’s hoping for a full production to appear on stage some day soon!

 

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