BY KEVIN REID
Yay, two shows in a row at the same venue! Music to my ears, or rather my feet, which are getting pretty tender now that I’m two days and 10 shows in at the Montreal Fringe…I keep forgetting how spoiled we are for venues in Ottawa. And speaking of Ottawa Fringe, last year when I made my stage debut (plug!) At the off-site TAN Coffee shop, I had the good fortune to share the space with not one but two of the companies attending this years Mtl Fringe. One was May Can Theatre, whose WOLVES>BOYS you should totally, totally go see. For serious. The other was Hopegrown Productions with their wicked comedy AROUND MISS JULIE, that they toured not only to Ottawa and Montreal, but even to the mighty Edinburgh Fringe as well. They’re a swell bunch, and I was anxious to see what they did for an encore.
Their encore is called LOTUS, a new play by Caitlin Murphy and directed by Bryan Doubt. A story inspired by some troublingly real events, the show stars Hopegrown co-founders Miriam Cummings and Samantha Megarry as a somewhat unlikely and antagonistic pair who find themselves stuck with one another in a situation rapidly going from bad to worse, for the both of them A gruesome, potentially illegal image is posted to a troubled teenager Amber’s (Megarry’s) Facebook wall, bringing her to the attention of Linda (Cummings), a somewhat odd and forthright police officer looking for answers, and following up on the first ‘hunch’ of her career. Dealing with Amber‘s defensiveness and her own twisted relationship with her Mother doesn’t help Linda any along the way, even while Amber deals with worse and worse insomnia…and of course, that damned picture that keeps on coming back…
There’s not much wrong with LOTUS, that I could spot…this is a polished and hardcore script that takes its audience to places they might rather not go, and features two of the best roles for women I can recall seeing in a new play in a while. Miriam Cummings and Samantha Megarry are both outstanding in their respective roles, and make for one of the most interesting odd couple dynamics at the Fringe. Linda’s insistence that her anger problem is, in point of fact, a patience problem, was a maddeningly nice touch and played beautifully by Cummings. And Sam Megarry has mastered the passive-aggressive teenage smarm, in this case disguising a pretty terrible truth far below. This show is a total package, written, directed and acted with passion and forethought. Well paced, an amazing payoff…yeah. Yeah, this is a really, really great show. Miss it at your peril. Peace, love and soul,