XOXO (third review)

XOXOTwo-Juliets-KEYpromo-imagePlaywright: Meghan Chalmers & Franny McCabe-Bennett
Director: Franny McCabe-Bennett & Meghan Chalmers
Cast: Meghan Chalmers & Franny McCabe-Bennett

Show Type: Comedy
Audience: General

Performed at Gallery #3: James North Studio

Review by: Anne Bokma

My only complaint about XOXO is that at a spare 25 minutes, it’s far too short. I left the show wanting more. Lots more. More of Meghan Chalmers and Franny McCabe-Bennett¹s zany charm, boundless energy and hilarious insights into the rollercoaster ride of love and relationships.  Whether it was a scene about a  pre-teen game of spin the bottle  or about the pressure to create the perfect online profile, this duo illuminates  how much the search for love is a shot in the dark.  Sometimes you get lucky and hit the bull’s eye and other times you miss the target ‹ over and over again. Not surprisingly, the stories in XOXO fall into the later category ­  but their woeful dating tales make for juicy material.

Chalmers and McCabe-Bennett, who met a few years ago in the theatre program at Humber College, wrote, directed and star in the show and admit that the stories are culled from their own true-life dating experiences. That’s probably why they have such a ring of authenticity about them. Everyone even a midlife long married woman like me ­ can relate to the humanity and humour in their tales. You don¹t have to be twentysomething to love this show. Nor do you have to be a woman. There were plenty of guys in the audience the night I saw the show ­ and they were enjoying themselves thoroughly.

When I approached Chalmers and McCabe-Bennett after the show to tell them how much I enjoyed a particularly hilarious bit about a woman being interviewed by a potential boyfriend’s family,  they mentioned offhandedly that they had improvised the scene the day before and threw it into the show that night. I was impressed. You will be too when you catch this talented pair in action. Despite the vagaries of dating life, one thing¹s for certain, you’ll leave this show with a big smile on your face.

Posted in Gallery Mini-Series | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Contemporary Conjuring (second review)

Nick-Wallace-KEY-Promo-image-1Cast: Nick Wallace

Show Type: Magic
Audience: General
Warning: May not be suitable for little children

Performed at Gallery #3: James North Studio

Review by: Jessica Perkins

Although the title of Nick Wallace’s submission in this year’s Fringe show is Contemporary Conjuring, audiences may find that term a bit anachronistic as they are taken back to times of travelling carnivals and parlour room tricks.

Two Fringes ago, magician/illusionist/mindreader Wallace wowed audiences with his other-worldy talent and polished presentational skills in a full-length show. This time around, Wallace treats us to a 25 minute performance in the intimate setting of James North Studio.

The magic show is short, but Wallace is so capable, so confident and steady with his connection with the audience that even the biggest skeptic can find some goosebumps on their arms in a few minutes. Wallace holds to his usual routine of card tricks, hypnotism and defying what our minds tell us can’t be real, but of course adds a unique flair to each and every performance. He tells his audiences that they’ll all be a part of something truly special that’s never been done before…and delivers on this promise in an fantastical finale.

Contemporary Conjuring is fun, mysterious and an overall thrill for any audience looking for a good time. Don’t believe me? Go see it for yourself! Great for all members of the family.

Posted in Gallery Mini-Series | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Un-Settling (second review)

Unsettling-Nisha-A-Key-ImageCreated and Performed By: Nisha Ahuja

Show Type: Bouffon
Audience: General

Performed at Gallery #1: B Contemporary Gallery

Review by: Jessica Perkins

Although un-settling was originally constructed as part of an educational workshop for seventh graders, its complex themes are ones we all struggle to understand, no matter what our age. un-settling is about the relationship between colonization and identity.

Writer and performer Nisha Ahuja takes us on a journey of cultural assimilation and colonization through the eyes of a person of colour. Rather than show or tell us her character’s perspective, she involves the audience as a means to completely immerse us in her experience and engage with the ideas presented.

In the style of bouffon, Ahuja playfully tackles the heavy and painful effects of colonisation. Donning white face, the colonized becomes the colonizer as she attempts to teach us how to succeed in the white man’s world. She begins with the dismantling of any afore-known language or culture. She has us repeat her lessons, forcing us to internalize them. We begin to see how this kind of knowledge is shared…how ideologies of inequality and the “white man’s burden” trickle down from person to person, generation to generation, century to century.

Ahuja is a remarkably talented artist. She is funny, engaging, strong and open. I particularly enjoyed the talk-back session that followed the performance, where Ahuja took questions facilitated a worthwhile discussion. A must see.

Posted in Gallery Mini-Series | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

XOXO (second review)

XOXOTwo-Juliets-KEYpromo-imagePlaywright: Meghan Chalmers & Franny McCabe-Bennett
Director: Franny McCabe-Bennett & Meghan Chalmers
Cast: Meghan Chalmers & Franny McCabe-Bennett

Show Type: Comedy
Audience: General

Performed at Gallery #3: James North Studio

Review by: Thomas Allen

The duo of Two Juliets (Meghan Chalmers and Franny McCabe-Bennett) put on a terrific show in “XOXO”, a must see comedy about relationship struggles.

From spinning the bottle, to creating a fluffy on-line dating profile, and even an awkward interview turned coughing lesson, the show was filled with clever humour.

A memorable moment is their lesson about what alcoholic beverage boyfriends aren’t allowed to have if they’re out with other girls. The answer: beer. Catch the show to find out why, though.

It was not only well acted, well-timed, and dramatic. They also sang and danced to some old classics and some new original songs. The dancing accompanying the singing was far from poetic, it was jerky, awkward, and perfect.

Performed at James Street North Studio, the show was very intimate. Both actresses interacted with the crowd in a way that was well scripted and hilarious. It was too hard not to chuckle when this sassy duo looked at you.

Like Abbot and Costello, Meghan set up the bottles and Franny knocked them down. The chemistry they exhibited in their performance was flawless.

This isn’t just a show for women. It’s a show for everyone who’s been in a relationship. And it was totally worth eight dollars.

Posted in Gallery Mini-Series | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Contemporary Conjuring

Nick-Wallace-KEY-Promo-image-1Cast: Nick Wallace

Show Type: Magic
Audience: General
Warning: May not be suitable for little children

Performed at Gallery #3: James North Studio

Review by: Sean Pittman

I expected a line outside James North Studio for magician Nick Wallace’s show Contemporary Conjuring. What I did not expect was the quick ingenuity of the front-of house staff to conjure nearly half a dozen extra seats for the large audience. Well done!
The show that followed was fantastic to say the least. With minimal props and in only 25 minutes Wallace involves the entire audience for a once-in-a lifetime, never before seen experience.

As a self-proclaimed skeptic, I was surprised to be selected for an audience participation illusion. It was an ‘uplifting’ experience to say the least. With only three Sunday performances left, make sure to arrive early. A must see!

Posted in Gallery Mini-Series | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cold Case (second review)

Roberto-Angelini-Cold-Case-KEYPromo-Image2Created and Performed By: Roberto Angelini

Show Type: Drama
Audience: General

Performed at Gallery #1: B Contemporary Gallery

Review by: Sean Pittman

Having just finished season one of The Wire, I was looking forward to Roberto Angelini’s police drama Cold Case. b contemporary gallery on James St. N. is transformed into a crime scene when Det. Tony Renato (Roberto Angelini) and Det. Karen Little (Genevieve Jack-Sadiwnyk) pull up in a black SUV complete with flashing police lights.

What follows is a 15 minute vignette of a murder investigation. There isn’t a lot to the story and little is revealed about the victim or the assailant. The strength of the show comes from the dialogue between Renato and Little. The police equivalent of the Odd Couple, Renato is a bumbling and forgetful detective where Little is razor sharp and has a near-encyclopedic knowledge of the case.

The piece feels incomplete, as little happens, but perhaps this is commentary on the daily grind of police investigations. Seldom are investigations wrapped up in neat packages. Looking forward to strong performances and more cohesive scenes in next season’s full-length version of Cold Case.

Posted in Gallery Mini-Series | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

XOXO

XOXOTwo-Juliets-KEYpromo-imagePlaywright: Meghan Chalmers & Franny McCabe-Bennett
Director: Franny McCabe-Bennett & Meghan Chalmers
Cast: Meghan Chalmers & Franny McCabe-Bennett

Performed at Gallery #3: James North Studio

Review by: Katie Stoneman

Two girls, an open studio, and a lot of heart, XOXO is not any run-of-the-mill comedy.

Meghan Chalmers and Franny McCabe-Bennett take you through the ups and downs of dating in the modern world. From online profiles, to what is an appropriate drink for a boyfriend to have, when out with other girls, that aren’t you.

Their comedy isn’t just for the girls, though, there were plenty of men there, and they were laughing along with us. Their humour is a little reminiscent of the humour in Lena Dunham’s Girls.

The way that the women put together the scenes is more than just two girls talking about “boy problems”, the colloquially termed “girl talk”. Instead, sarcastic take on meeting a potential boyfriend’s family (scripted as a hilarious interview) was the highlight of the show for me. They wrote, produced, acted, danced, sang. They did it all, and they did it very well.

Both women bring something to the table when it comes to acting. Franny is hilarious, flat out. She delivers lines with impeccable timing, and a facial expression that, alone, would have you busting a gut. Her sarcastic lines delivered bluntly, will send you reeling.

Meghan offers a cuter kind of comedy, but nonetheless hilarious. Her emotive performance is outrageous, and zany, and awesome.

I didn’t know what to expect, going into this show, but I am really glad I caught it. And I would love to see these two girls in a show again.

Posted in Gallery Mini-Series | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment