Review by: John Girhiny
Two of Shakespeare’s characters, Ophelia and Desdemona, reimagined through Bouffon, in order to denounce gender stereotypes. On trial here is ‘Man’. Get ready to laugh as they poke fun at some of our more flawed social structures. Along the way, Death Married My Daughter puts some classical touches on modern themes and modern touches on classical themes. The production began with Elizabethan music which was beautiful and set the scene for the beginning of the piece. Music was also used appropriately and effectively throughout the production. Desdemona and Ophelia crawl out on the stage expressing “the fact” that they have been crawling for 410 years.
Immediately the audience is struck with the excellent facial expressions and the desire to involve the audience. This night, this was a difficult task as there were few audience members. Desdemona comes across as a very attractive “corpse” with a beautiful nightgown and flowing body movements. Her hands and feet positioning I am sure come from schooling in dance. Ophelia is seen as a harsher character through her gestures and facial expressions. Having seen Ophelia after the show her talent was even more evident as she was a pretty young lady with a very pleasant personality.
The first 15 minutes or so go over the Shakespearean death of the two protagonists and their imagined revenge upon Hamlet and Othello. This was done extremely well especially since the entire play is done in Bouffon style.
Briefly for the reader: Bouffon, originally conceived during the French Renaissance and recoined by Jacques Lecoq in the 60s is a performance style that has mockery at its core. The Bouffon were the ‘ugly people’ banished to the swamps, only let out during festivals to entertain royalty, AKA the beautiful people
Suddenly the scene changes to modern time with a conservative conference with Ann Coulter as the speaker. She denounces gun lobby and other American “institutions”.
One highlight of the show is both ladies giving birth on stage to little male babies. The next sequence has an interesting and unusual presentation emphasizing the “maleness”. Watch for it.
There are some interesting bits in the dialogue. One example is a short bit on males being incomplete females since the y chromosone is an incomplete x chromosone obviously.
The company had to rush back to Toronto as they were selected for the best of the Fringe in Toronto and were continuing their performance there as well as doing the Hamilton Fringe. A fitting tribute to the talents of two young women who performed Bouffon well.