Since volunteering for Front of House, it’s become a habit of mine to always seek out the main show boards at the information tents or box office at the Arts Barns. I like to see what shows have been selling out, particularly after good reviews in the Journal. I checked them out this afternoon while we were on the grounds, and it looks to me like there are a higher number of sold out shows than usually expected this early on in the festival. They also seem to have no correlation to reviews in the paper, though I have to say I haven’t done an exhaustive comparison. Most surprising to me is that not a single show of Spiral Dive has sold out, in spite of getting the only five-star review thus far. Perhaps the La Cite venue really is too far off the beaten track for most festival-goers to seek out?
Anyway, Mack and I watched two shows today – the first was Mockingbird Close by local artist Trevor Schmidt. An exploration of the ills of suburbia isn’t a new subject, but Mockingbird Close does an exceptional job of reaching and maintaining a harrowing level of intensity almost as soon as it starts. In particular, I appreciated the highly visual language, and the incorporation of Hansel and Gretel’s tale throughout. The play’s success rests heavily on the shoulders of the two actors, and Tiana Leonty and Cody Porter are well cast and well-matched for the roles of a couple searching for their lost son. The play’s two “halves” (the first about the family dynamic and the second about the neighbourhood), could have been individual shows themselves, and as a result, Mockingbird Close felt somewhat disjointed. As a whole though, I did enjoy the play, and would recommend it.
Mack picked our second selection for the day, @Life, at one of my least favourite venues, the Yardbird Suite. The description of the show in the program led me to believe the play was a “comedic examination of the role of technology in modern life”, but really, this is a play written by and for gamers. As a result, I have to say I didn’t understand enough of the references to like the play. However, I have to admire the energy level of the three actors, who were entertaining to watch, and a few of the sketches (the evolution of Mario, the “console reunion party”) that I mildly comprehended. Mack, on the other hand, having spent some time gaming, did enjoy the play.
I’ll be back at the Fringe on Wednesday. Have you seen any plays yet?