Fringe Theatre Adventures: “The Bone House”

Marty Chan’s The Bone House was the first play I ever watched, introducing me to the wild world of live theatre back in my high school days. I haven’t looked back since, immersing myself in the Fringe Festival every summer, subscribing to Teatro la Quindicina, and partaking in many other productions throughout the year. When I heard Fringe Theatre Adventures was bringing back the play that started it all for me, I couldn’t wait to watch the remount.

Mack and I headed to the Arts Barns on Friday night, and joined a relatively intimate crowd in the PCL Studio Theatre. One of the coolest things about this incarnation was that Chris Fassbender, who played assistant Jacob in the past production, took on the lead role of “mind hunter” Eugene Crowley this time around – it was great to see him on stage in Edmonton again, as Fassbender has since relocated to Vancouver.

The play, set up as being a lecture on serial killers (and on the Midnight Cowboy in particular, who has not yet been caught), is psychologically unnerving. Though having seen it before prepared me for some of the twists, my memory could not protect me from other frights. Crowley shifted random members of the audience (including me) twice, ensuring that a majority of the attendees were sitting among unfamiliar peers. Moreover, the build up towards the unexpected ending is subtle and so well done, gradually encouraging unsaid possibilities to multiply in the audience’s mind. Tracey Power’s turn as the frail Gabrielle halfway through manages to heighten the terror even further, ensuring the audience is vividly aware of the Midnight Cowboy’s brutality, as Gabrielle recounts the murder of her parents.

The Bone House is one of those productions that you have to experience yourself – any more detail shared would ruin it. Even after my second viewing, I would still name it as one of the best plays I have ever seen. Go while you still can.

The Bone House runs at the TransAlta Arts Barns until November 7.

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