Vanessa Quesnelle (known to Ottawa Fringers from Moonlight After Midnight, and Love is a Battlefield) is producing her first solo work in 5 years at the festival. Quesnelle puts her considerable vocal chops, strong physicality, and sharp writing on display in a piece that weaves all three elements into a coming-of-age story that blends creation myth with contemporary grit.
I love walking out a show thinking “I didn’t know they could do that. Cool.” In this show I learned that Quesnelle’s impressive singing voice is paired with a unique ability to build narrative through pure physicality and movement. Cool. Her other work that I have seen has often featured at least one a capella song, and this show is no exception, but this one is also built around a rather complete soundscape that assists in the storytelling, both through narration and mood.
It is with this narration that the show begins, a back-lit glowing moment in the prehistory of the strange world built throughout the show. We hear of the birth of a pair of sisters, Soleste, and the titular Luna, by their mother, Tera. Following a tragic accident, Luna leaves her family to find her own way through the world.
I was glad to see some distinct theatrical choices being made by Quesnelle in this piece, and for me, the risk paid off in a unique flavour to the classic story of heroic return. The mythological names of the characters are simply facts in this piece, and they lead recognizably gritty lives complete with dive bars, hospitals, drugs, and broken hearts. The piece features some truly magical moments of concise storytelling, and a stand-out performance by Quesnelle.
I really enjoyed this show, and I think that it has room for further growth and development that will transform it from a strong piece into a true powerhouse. In particular some of the beats felt a little overdrawn to me, (the opening sequence, for example) and some of the relationships, while brilliantly realized and affective, leave me looking for more. The conflict between the narrator and Luna especially feels like it has room to be fleshed out. Thankfully, this show rolls in under 50 minutes, which leaves ample room for growth and trimming as it continues alongs its developmental journey.
Produced by Concrete Drops Theatre
Created and Performed by Vanessa Quesnelle
Wednesday, June 14 6:30pm
Thursday, June 15 8:00pm
Saturday, June 17 9:00pm
Sunday, June 18 2:00pm