Well, the Fringe is abuzz with talk of actor Mikaela Dyke’s open letter of complaint against festival director Ken Pinto. I believe it is a brave act and that it may be a step towards making the Atlantic Fringe stronger and more professionally run. I look forward to hearing Pinto’s side of the story. But controversy aside, Day 10 offered some outstanding theatre experiences.
Oh, how I wish I’d had a high school teacher like the cool, kind Art Moore, the New Brunswick native who has brought My Five Near Death Experiences to the Fringe. I can imagine that kids are jockeying to get into his class, and that the lucky ones who do get in are more compassionate, literate human beings when they leave. He is a natural story teller who has built a show by weaving together stories and poems from his life that centre on people helping one another. The tales include things like a lesson that Moore learned from his father about helping the less fortunate, and friendships formed on a relief mission to Haiti. But it was his description of the connection formed between his High school students and a soldier whom they “adopted in Afghanistan that moved me to tears. It’s very uplifting to know there are people Moore to act as role models for our youth.
Fleeing the bonds of domestic drudgery is an interesting topic for a show produced by a bunch of twenty-somethings. Speaking from the point of view of a middle-aged woman, I was pleasantly surprised by how astute some of the observations were. The “housewife” in Housewife: A Hip-Hopera (played by another Fringe all-star, Sarah Vanasse) both loves and hates her roles as wife and mother. Her house is her kingdom, and her daughter is the light of her life, but she has a nagging desire for fulfillment on a personal level. Unfortunately, her idea of shaking up her life is to have a kind of icky one-night stand with an old school acquaintance. I can’t help but feel that there was truth in this short, entertaining show, but that the ending left something to be desired.
Man, does actor/writer Alison Wearing ever nail it. And by “it” I mean the joys and burdens of motherhood. Her lovely, lyrical one-woman show Giving Into Light describes everything from the way a child turns life upside down (graphically and hilariously acted out by Wearing) to the truth about the horrors of maternal sleep deprivation. But this isn’t just a show about babies: Wearing also takes the audience on a sight and sound-filled journey to Mexico where she lived and learned with her infant son and partner. Mothers will recognize many truths, and others will simply enjoy this gorgeous, beautifully-performed show.