Keeping Cool on Day 2 of the Fringe

Black Jack Justice , Bitches and Emotional Condom

With temperatures soaring as Hurricane Earl (Hot Juan??) lumbered towards the city, the air conditioned splendor of Plutonium Playhouse offered sweet relief as well as a mixed bag of Fringey entertainment…

The first show, Black Jack Justice, proved to be the best of the evening. Set in a radio studio during the recording of a 1940’s show about a hardboiled detective, it features snappy dialogue, a lovely twinning of romantic entanglements in the studio with those on the radio show itself and seven crackerjack performances. Schoel Strang, who plays a ballsy girl detective in this and who also stars in Ed’s Story, may well deserve some special Fringe prize for being terrific in two terrific plays…but then she may have some competition from Colleen MacIsaac, who is delightful as the mousey organist in Black Jack, and who also designed the Ed’s Story poster as well as being the assistant director of the as-yet-unseen-by-me Vanishing Twins.

Bitches star’s Picnicface’s Cheryl Hann performing a series of monologues interspersed with flashy (literally and figuratively) musical/video pieces to allow for quick costume changes. Hann is a captivating performer, totally at home in front of her audience. She plays everything from a seriously deranged weight loss guru to a lost soul hocking her body, piece by piece at the bus stop. The monologues are both laugh-out-loud funny and seriously creepy. This is edgy stuff where laughter and discomfort go hand in hand. Perhaps this piece would more aptly be named “Psychotics”.

The last show of the evening, Emotional Condom, was an exercise in frustration. It stars the talented Ann Denny as Anna Danova, an emotional rescuer who sets out to save people from the minor inconveniences of life and to help them protect themselves in emotional clinches. At least that’s what the show says it’s about. Instead it stretches into a long evening of unrelated songs and manic mugging and “dancing”. Anna and her boys have musical ability and some gift for humour. What they require now is a cohesive show filled with better material.

For a complete list of shows go to www.atlanticfringe.ca

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