2 Fringe Reviews: Something Old, Something New (Criminal Genius & “The Hoodwink”)
Calgary Fringe Festival Shows Reviewed Here: Criminal Genius and “The Hoodwink” (see previous posts for other reviews)
Today’s reviews are by my theatre buddy, Laurie Strashok. Laurie’s one of the Fringe Festival’s many hard-working volunteers and as a result, she’s been to more Fringe plays than I have. We’ve seen a bunch of them together and have pretty similar tastes. When she offered to take a shot at writing up a couple of reviews for the two non-musical theatre shows she saw after we parted yesterday, I was delighted, since I thought it unlikely I would get a chance to see them myself. She saw the plays – both put on by Calgary companies – and drafted up the articles. I did some background research, a bit of editing and added some comments – a real team effort. Isn’t that what the Fringe is all about? LMC
Criminal Genius (Alexandra Centre Society) – Guest review by Laurie Strashok
Criminal Genius is a darkish comedy written by one of Canada’s best-known playwrights, George F. Walker, that will have you laughing from beginning to end. That’s 75 minutes of laughter, so well worth the $15 price of admission. In this show a violent plan gets messed up when a seasoned but not-so-bright father/son criminal duo are hired by a mobster to set fire to a restaurant, decide they just can’t do it anymore and kidnap the dishwasher instead. The women – who are the smart ones by a long shot - have to take over and get the job done, and boy, do they get it done. It has a cast of five, and the women steal the show in this production by Calgary’s Zoalington Productions. Criminal Genius, is part of a cycle of 6 one-act plays called Suburban Motel, which was first produced in 1997, and is reminiscent of one of Walker’s best works, Criminals in Love [I saw this in Toronto when it first came out in 1984 and have been a Walker fan ever since - LMC]. If you’re tired of one-person shows or looking for a tried-and-true show by an established writer, you can’t go wrong here.
“The Hoodwink” (Festival Hall – did I mention it’s air-conditioned?) – Guest review by Laurie Strashok
“The Hoodwink” (which cleverly gets itself at the top of the programme by putting its name in quotation marks) is the story of Albie Davis, a young adult trying to make it as a rapper while trying to resist the temptation to conform to the glamorous looks of the likes of Beyonce and Rihanna. Calgary’s Melanie Murray gives a strong performance in multiple roles of all ages, both male and female. Does she stay true to herself or does she conform in order to be successful? Well, you just have to see it, to find out. It’s a powerful story told through rhyme, music, and comedy – simple but effective. While the rapping isn’t the best I’ve ever heard, if you understand rap music you’ll probably enjoy this theatrical production [and if you like rap music, you might even call it a musical - LMC].
Laurie Strashok has recently discovered live theatre and decided she likes it better than movies.
The Calgary Fringe Festival runs from August 3 to August 11. Tickets are $10-$15 per show plus your $5 Fringe button and most shows are about an hour long. For schedules and online tickets (well worth it for popular shows), go to Calgary Fringe Festival. If you want to see what I’m going to or find people to go with, check out the Calgary Musicals+ Meetup Group.