Fringe 2019 Reviews, Part 2

Note that the following reviews are the completely subjective opinions of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views of the other members of Assaulted Fish.

AZ_foolmunkooming

Fool Muun Komming!

In the words of Sam Kruger, the creator/performer of Fool Muun Komming!, his show is “a bit difficult to describe,” but I’ll give it a shot. First, you need to know that the full title is actually Fool Muun Komming! [BeBgWunderful/YEsyes/4sure.Hi5.TruLuv; Spank Spank :SOfun_Grate_Times], which, in some ways, tells you more about the show than I may be able to. Second, it’s a one-man performance piece made up of a series of vignettes centred around an unnamed alien (Kruger) trying to make an emotional connection with humanity before the Earth is annihilated by a sentient asteroid that the alien is also a passenger on (whew!). Finally, it’s weird. Really weird. And when I say “weird,” I don’t mean “look at me, I’m wearing two different socks” weird. I mean full-on “psychedelic lava-lamp, I levitate in my basement and my best friend is an orange” weird.

What ties Fool Muun Komming! together is Kruger, whose goofy wordplay and manically precise physicality are the beating alien heart of the piece. His whiplash timing and pliable body create moments of hilarity and menace but also beauty and even the sought after emotional connection. Some of the vignettes work better than others and there are a few times where Kruger goes for the obvious joke rather than the creative one, which is only a shame because it breaks the spell a bit. That said, it is well-worth seeing on the strength of Kruger’s performance alone and is certainly the quirkiest and most original show I have seen so far. — Marlene Dong

inescapable_2695

Inescapable

Fans of Martin Dockery are not going to be disappointed by Inescapable, the latest offering by the critically acclaimed Fringe regular. This two-hander pairs Dockery with Jon Paterson as old friends who have retired to a back room during a Christmas party and appear to be locked in some kind of endless and very personal argument. It is hard to say more without giving away the play’s secrets.

Those familiar with Dockery’s writing will know that he often uses repetition and circular structures, with each loop adding information and creating new connections with the previous loops. This is the case with Inescapable as a lifetime of secrets, lies and betrayals are gradually revealed over the course of the play’s 55 minutes. Another thing that Dockery fans will be familiar with is that he talks really, really fast. Inescapable spins by at a furious rate and it is a testament to Dockery’s skill as a writer and the duo’s skill as performers that I never felt lost despite the rapid-fire dialogue and complicated structure of the play. The characters in Inescapable may not be having a good time, but the audience definitely will. — MD

GuardsAtTheTaj

Guards at the Taj

Director Paneet Singh and featured actors Adele Noronha and Andy Kalirai have produced a jewel of a play. Written by Pulitzer-nominated playwright Rajiv Joseph and set in 1648 Mughal, India, Guards at the Taj is a dark, comedic meditation on the themes of power and beauty, duty and honour, and love and friendship. The Taj Mahal has recently been completed after a 16-year labour by 20,000 artists and artisans. Whether history or myth, the story goes that to prevent the labourers from creating another architectural marvel like the Taj, the emperor decreed that all their hands be cut off. It’s a horrific command, impossible to comprehend let alone action. Yet that’s the position Humayun and Babur finds themselves in as imperial guards of the Taj Mahal. Just as beauty is juxtaposed with brutality, Huma and Babur exist according to opposing ideals: the former’s world is defined by duty and structure, while the latter’s is one of dreams and imagination.

Kalirai plays Babur with tremendous heart: he’s charming and poetic, and hilarious and horrified when he needs to be. I think Noronha has the more difficult task of portraying the masculine Huma, but not to worry, Noronha excels at playing up the character’s ridiculous rule-bound rigidity and then the fallout of Huma’s actions later. The final scene was deeply affecting, a testament to the talented actors, excellent direction and set pieces.

If I have any quibbles they are with the script not the production. The second act dragged and had too many digressions. If it focused on the discussions about beauty, the final act and scene would resonate even more. — MD

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