Saturday, July 29, 2006

Being as I had today off, I decided to Fringe.*

I saw three plays over the course of six hours. One of the plays was funny, one was witty, and one was terrifically good fun.

Sadly, I am talking all about a single play.

The other two sucked.

Okay, okay - only one actually 'sucked' per se. The other was just 'meh.'

(Yes, that is my offical Fringe rating code. I am tired - and slightly cranky at only having seen one good show today - grr!)

The first play of the day which I saw was FemMennonite - a one-woman show.

I had high hopes for it considering the great four star review it received on CBC. However, it turned out to be a piece of self-indugent, Christian-bashing tripe.

You see, I tend to believe that when people leave a fundamentalist religion** (and my own experience has only been with the Christian persuasion), it is usually for reasons that fall into one of two catagories:

1) Intellectual - meaning the individual has left the "flock" due to a lack of faith/a crisis of faith/by reasons of critical thinking. In other words, they could not reconcile two truths - what they believed to be true and what they were being taught to be true. (More on this some other time)

2) Moral - and by this I actually mean immoral. In this second catagory, individuals leave their religion because it is too morally restrictive (or they get booted out for having broken one of the religion's moral commandments).

I've always kind of felt sorry for those who fall into Catagory 2 because they're in such grey territory - they may have left their faith behind so as to indulge in various "sins" such as smoking, drinking, sex, etc. - and yet they're not free because as far as they know they have no ground to stand upon. They're much more at risk of being consumed by guilt over their actions because they have not left their faith due to its flaws, they've left due to what they consider to be their own flaws.

Of course, not all people who leave for Catagory 2 reasons feel any guilt whatsoever. Many, it seems, just leave because their faith was too restrictive and they don't look back or think much of anything of it.

Anyways, I've kind of gone on a tangent here. *ahem*

FemMennonite is about a girl who - from what I finally
gathered at the conclusion of the play - leaves her Mennonite religion for reasons falling into Catagory 2. In other words, she wants to party and she finds her Mennonite faith restricts her ability to "really live."

Of course, the play isn't about what happens after she leaves (because that would probably have made a very dull play). Instead, its all about her mocking the lifestyle she eventually decides to leave behind. So that she can pursue her dreams of becoming a movie-star and having lots of great sex.

You get the idea?

Going by the short synopsis I'd read ahead of time, I really thought the play had the potential to be funny and charming and even sweet. But unfortunately it just came off as sad (and by that I really mean pathetic). The jokes fell flat (there are only so many Jesus jokes you can make before you need to get some new material) and I found the character to be... well, basically unlikeable. I actually ended up feeling much more sympathy for the family she constantly mocked and ranted against - I mean, they had to put up with this irritating teenage daughter continually complaining about how repressed and hard-done by she felt day in and day out.

Which leads us to play number two - The Bold and Spikey Poetry Show.

I'm tired so I'll make this quick.

They were quirky, British, and performed stand-up poetry. Some of it was very funny and some of it was very bad.

The last play of the evening was The Excursionists, which - thank the goddess! - was great.

I'll let CBC sum it up as, at least in this case, they were right:

"What would any good Englishman do if his country sank to the bottom of the sea? Why, set out to conquer another land, of course. That’s the premise of this Jules Verne-inspired epic underwater adventure story where you’ll be treated to a fantastical walk on the ocean floor, an underwater train and, of course, the obligatory giant squid attack. The two-man, four-flipper cast offer bang-on performances in the very clever, quirky comedy. British colonialism never looked so good. True fringe."

Really, I ask you! How could anything that is "Jules Verne-inspired" and an "epic underwater adventure" with British humour be bad??

Especially when the two characters emerge wearing deep-sea diving helmets, blowing bubbles, and making "glug-glug" noises as they slowly walk about mimicking the underwater pressured atmosphere.

It may sound insane - but it was great. Very goofy, very British.**

Tomorrow - only a three hour wedding to do. *phew!*

Night night.

* Because our annual Fringe Festival is truly one of the greatest things about this city.
**E.g. Mormons (Latter Day Saints), Jehovah's Witnesses, (hardcore) Mennonites, the Twelve Tribes, etc.
*** Although, they were actually from Seattle. Americans!
However, in an extremely well-done and subtle way, they included the obligatory "we hate Bush" jibe and so we all liked them anyway.

1 comment:

Elliot said...

Great review of FemMennonite. I was afraid it would be along those lines. "I'm a rebel so that makes me superior! Pity me!"

And whoohoo for The Excursionists! The reviews I've seen make it sound like a lot of fun. Too bad Mel and I were feeling kind of tired and sick - it would have been great to come along.