This article appeared in the June 9, 2015 edition of Montreal Rampage
Most Fringe shows haven’t opened yet. I made a point of catching a rather feminist trio of shows, though each one is a very different image of womanhood. Nadia Verrucci brings a unique type of madness to two different shows.
A Nightmare for Oberon
Shakespeare’s most notorious women, Ophelia, Lady Macbeth, and Titania meet up in the fairy woods and discover that women should work together. Using a Shakespearean-styled language and lines from the original plays, this is a brave and cleverly scripted show. Nadia Verrucci, who has a great knack for comedy, steals the stage as Lady Macbeth though she has little more than a guilty conscience and a thirst for ambition to work with. I would have liked author Julie Foster to have fleshed these characters out even more, as they rely heavily on the mold that Shakespeare gives to each but retooled with a contemporary eye. Ophelia comes off as a tad melodramatic and prim, like a doe-eyed Disney princess. Titania is experienced and over-sexed, like a bad-ass older sister in an after-school special. RL
Sexe, Drogues, et Kurt Weill
Hey Anglos only, don’t let the French name stop you. This is a multilingual concert of smokey cabaret tunes. Dressed like they’re waiting for the Germans to march into their ramshackle cabaret club in Paris, the four Kurtettes sing with gusto about love, love, and more love in three different languages. There’s also a short and entertaining comedy routine (en anglais). Some songs are performed better (= more on key) than others and a little more act variety would have been welcome. Steel yourself for the operatic piece, though. RL
In Search of Mrs. Pirandello
This gorgeous, avant-garde piece by Michaela Di Cesare is perfect. Don’t even bother with my review; just go see it.
Michaela Di Cesare offers a considered and mature work about the wife of Luigi Pirandello (Six Authors in Search of an Author) who spent 40 years in a Roman mental institution and wasn’t even buried beside her husband. Michaela plays a newlywed on her honeymoon who wants to know more about why Luigi’s wife, Maria Antoinetta (Nadia Verrucci) merits only a footnote and left out of history.
Using letters and imagined dialogue, the audience is treated to a braided biopic of a woman whose “insanity” may be due to schizophrenia, her husband’s intolerance, obsessive jealousy, trauma, or other ambiguous factors. Enough is shown to give glimpses of her difficult life without boring or burdening the audience with useless details. David Chiazzese plays the brooding, tempestuous Luigi with a fine slipperiness. The rest of the stellar cast (Chip Chuipka, Mike Payette, Michaela Di Cesare) take on roles that range from characters in Luigi’s works, to nuns, to fellow writers, to German psychiatrists, to Luigi’s ex-finacée, to Antoinetta at different ages.
This play has an ideal combination of insight, humour, and tension. The space of the Rialto is used to great effect and the beige and white setting enhance the feeling. It’s a masterful play that will have a long life after the Fringe. RL
A Nightmare for Oberon is at The Rialto Piccolo from June 3-20. In Search of Mrs. Pirandello is at the Rialto Studio from June 3-20. Sexe, Drogues et Kurt Weill is at Caigibi from June 5-21.