There are a number of remounts at this year’s Ottawa Fringe Festival, some of which I saw for the first time 2 years ago. I decided to take this opportunity to discuss the numerous changes that the respective works have undergone in the course of their development. Please follow these links for the original reviews of The Sink and Hootenanny! And then feel free to keep reading.
First, I should note that The Sink is not properly included in the printed program, but is playing at all the scheduled times for a show called Young Buck$, which has been cancelled.
I first saw The Sink at the Fringe in 2015, in a cramped BYOV cafe with the audience on two sides. This year, creator/performer Nick Wade drew a spot in the Arts Court Theatre, so I was excited to see how the play changed to fill this much larger space. While some of my favourite elements from 2015 were no longer present (what happened to those projections!?), the show itself retained a lot of its unique flavour.
Please do read that review, because much of my praise and admiration for this piece stands with the present iteration.
To be honest, as far as I can recall, not much about this production had changed, except that the projections were gone, and the soundscape seemed less full. The simplified design made more room for Wade’s performance to carry the story, and it certainly succeeded there.
Wade’s odd tale of social alienation and obsession with a misshapen object certainly still hits hard. If anything, the world is more alienating now than it was when the piece premiered, though to my mind, the focus of alienation has shifted away from the work-state relationship towards identity/power politics. That may fully be a representation of my own bias, based on where my life is at. That said, I don’t think the institution of work has become more fulfilling in the last 2 years, but rather that it has taken a bit of a back seat in our collective awareness due to more pressing issues.
As for the text, I said in my original review that some of the rhymes felt a bit forced, the movements lacking imagination in their choreography. This feeling didn’t strike me last night, as Wade wove the narrative out of verse and movement with vocal skill and physical aplomb.
This piece is a unique offering at the festival, and moreover, is a darkly comic play about something universally understood; the struggle to find companionship in a world built of scarcity and isolation.
The Fringe in 2015 was, I believe, the premiere of the now successful touring show Hootenanny! and the performance I witnessed then was chock full of technical gaffs and malfunctions. In the two years since then, creator/performers Kate Smith and Will Somers have turned this show into a well oiled machine.
All the praise I had for Smith and Somers when I first saw the show hold true; they are strong performers who are a pleasure to watch. The show itself is fluid, making strong use of projections in the context of the “live” performance of Hoot and Anny to tell their story. The story of the self-destruction of these two “best friends” is strikingly personal and genuine, and I was grateful that the tech ceased to be a distraction in this version of the show because it left me free to engage with their story. The technical elements of this show served only to emphasize the strong performances of the actors and draw the conflicts between the characters into starker relief.
Having seen it twice now, I can say with confidence that Hootenanny! is a show that you can enjoy over and over.
The Sink (Young Buck$ in the program)
Created by The Alley Brats
Produced and Performed by Nick Wade
runtime: 30 minutes
Arts Court Theatre
Wednesday, June 14 8:00pm
Thursday, June 15 10:00pm
Sunday, June 18 6:00pm
Created and Performed by Kate Smith & Will Somers
Produced by Smith & Somers
runtime: 55 minutes
Arts Court Theatre
Wednesday, June 14 6:30pm
Friday, June 16 9:00pm
Saturday, June 17 11:00pm