April 2005

RED A night of live performance
April 13, 2005Lula LoungeToronto

This Wednesday night took me right back to the 60's — yes, I'm that old — when I first learned why some playwrights wrote a revue. They couldn't write a full-length play.

But if they wrote a revue, they instantly had permission to put all their unwieldy bits and pieces of theatre, dancing, comedy, singing and music into one bag. They didn't have to work out plot and context and history. And they could deliver a show.

So here I was at Lula Lounge for Lisa Pijuan's RED, which is a revue — in this case, an assemblage of diverse performers.

I was wondering what I'd see.

Comic Nile Seguin set the tone for the evening. Youthful energy. He worked the gay jokes, gay sex in prison jokes, his dad, his ethnicity, his city of birth, before climaxing in a joke that ended with the word, poutine.

Your careful reporter is compelled to say that I know all the jokes he told. All of them. And I know many better ones; and many dirtier ones. And I don't really tell jokes or even worry about telling them. So, hey! sorry, but I guess it 'all depends on what you know'. That's from the 60's as well.

But not to digress into 'oldies are goodies' talk. That's not what I'm saying. I'm saying that a professional performer has to perform what They think and feel in formats They devise. They don't re-project what they've studied at school.

All such critical thoughts got pushed aside when singer/songwriter Megan Hamilton sang, "Time always slips away so fast/ Money just don't ever last/ Friends slipped into the past/ Time slips away so fast".

She moved me, and — honestly — I thought of Shakespeare's sonnet on friendship, Sonnet XXX. The point is: Megan Hamilton reached a clear place of understanding in this tune, and her lyrics, guitar, and her feeling, did the rest.

However, in the case of Miriam Schacter's performance piece, her stated desire for an artforce rather than a workforce in society might be good news to artists, but it doesn't produce engaging work.

Nor does Rachelle Elie persuade us, after discoursing on all manners of poo-poo, that there's more to a clown than that red nose.

And in the case of the woman who delivered a Monologue 101 on fellatio, it's all good adult fun, but what's up with finally calling out, "A good wife knows her place." (Is this oralized satire?)

And the visually promising theatre piece with Erin Sheilds and Andrea Donaldson gradually slid around on stage as much as its two women dressed in black, one a guest at a cocktail party and the other a waitress carrying trays precariously overfilled with spoons — 'silver spoons'?

Erin Sheilds & Andrea Donaldson

I'm pleased to say the dancers saved the night. Their dances had clear and consistent structures, as in Lisa Pijuan's 2-woman piece which literally came dancing from behind us while Vanessa AvRuskin continued to play her lightly melancholy clarinet in front of the stage. And as in Jen Yi Hum's very dramatic Chinese classical dance, we saw that hard training and the pursuit of a personal path is behind the elegant and circular shapes she dances.

I don't know what it takes, but Noah Kenneally's toilet roll puppets moving about his tabletop stage with a Hee-hee-hee didn't do anything for me, and singer/guitarist Reid Jameson's farewell songs could have been stronger and clearer.

But that's the way RED ended for me, in a downbeat of disappointment.

Art is serious business.

You push on.

We welcome your comments and feedback
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Report by David Fujino
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Photograph by Roger Humbert

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