Dispatches from the Victoria Fringe 2015. Day Six.

Victoria Fringe 2015. Dispatches from the Victoria Fringe 2015. Day Six.  August 26-September 6, 2015 in Victoria BC. Reviews of Pretending Things are a Cock by Jon Bennett and The Wyrd Sisters by Damnspot Theatre.

Be sure to check out my other Victoria Fringe 2015 coverage HERE. 

Pretending Things are a Cock by Jon Bennett

Jon Bennett comes from the gonzo tradition of storytelling. Life is a crazy and wild adventure, and has been since his childhood growing up with four brothers on a small Australian farm. Small in stature and mighty in spirit, he’s used to being the butt of jokes and ribbings, and developed, early one suspects, the ability to give back as good as he received.

Pranks and pratfalls exist in equal measure—Bennett is not above telling a good joke at his own expense. He’s used to being the centre of attention where ever he goes, and by whatever means.

Pretending Things Are A Cock (PTAAC) seems like a natural extension of a naturally daredevil, and at times, fool hardy nature.
In a world where memes spring up and die overnight, Pretending Things Are A Cock has surprising longevity and staying power—people world-wide continue to send him photos of their experiments. He’s been touring the show since 2010 on the comedy, Fringe and festival circuit.

Equal measure travelogue, storytelling and stand-up, PTAAC is fast, furious and funny theatre—Hunter S Thompson would be proud to know that his influence continues.

Of course there are photos of Bennett and others with phallic shaped objects protruding from their torsos; what elevates the show beyond the puerile is Bennett’s careful crafting of his story arc, his deliberate actions in saving the best story for the last, his self-deprecatory wit and humour, and ultimately his humble “I can’t believe this has happened to me” manner.

Many of us dream of taking the road less travelled but hang back, fearful of the consequences. Here’s a storyteller who, balls to the wall, just did it.

Pretending Things are a Cock by Jon Bennett
2Hoots Productions, Melbourne, Australia
Venue 2 Downtown Activity Centre
60 minutes • PG 14+: Coarse Language • Comedic Storyteller

Remaining shows:
Friday September 4, 2015 – 6:45 PM
Saturday September 5, 2015 – 9:00 PM
Sunday September 6, 2015 – 2:45 PM

The Wyrd Sisters by Damnspot Theatre

Moody and atmospheric, with a spectacular original soundtrack, and athletic, grounded and earthy choreography, the Wyrd Sisters takes the notion the three witches from Shakespeare’s Macbeth were actually responsible for far more evil mischief, their influence seen in Julius Caesar, Midsummer Night’s Dream, Hamlet and Henry VI Part 1.

As sailors battle mightily against the storm, heavily heartily upon the lines, and thunder booms, lightning rents the sky illuminating the instigators of all to come. Darkness permeates costume (Michelle Bowes) and makeup as the harpies (Collete Habel, Victoria Simpson, Nicola Whitney-Griffiths) glower and gloat, pulling on invisible strings.

Transitions from play to play are seamless, Macbeth (Levi Schneider) walks off as Caesar (Jack Hayes) enters, the lovers in Midsummer Night’s Dream (Jack Hayes, Nicolas Yee) confounded in the forest give way to Joan of Arc (Colette Habel) and Charles (Levi Schneider) from Henry VI Part 1 wrestling whole-heartedly. Nicole Whitney-Griffiths leaps and tumbles as Puck. The choreography is extremely athletic, showcasing the extensive skills of actors who are dancers, martial artists and acrobats.

While a solid knowledge of Shakespeare will provide added enjoyment, it is not absolutely necessary. Likewise with dance. The Wyrd Sisters is a highly visual and sonar experience. Carl Keys’ composition is largely inspired by found sounds—crickets, a mewling cat, wind and rain comprise but a fraction of the sounds I was able to pick out. The result, while at times disarming and frankly frightening, seemed much less disorienting than a score comprised solely of electronic elements.

The organic nature of the score corresponds to the organic nature of the choreography (Nicola Whitney-Griffiths). The Wyrd Sisters is a devised piece; the ensemble has been investigating the work (writing and direction by Alannah Bloch) since May. The result is a solid, hauntingly beautiful production which opens up a world with its crazy speculation. What if the Wyrd Sisters continue to pull the strings?

The Wyrd Sisters is a first venture for new Victoria troupe Damnspot Theatre, comprised of current students and recent graduates of the University of Victoria Phoenix Theatre. I’m looking forward to more innovative work from this emerging company.

The Wyrd Sisters, adapted and created by Alannah Bloch
Damnspot Theatre
Venue 3 Metro Studio Theatre
45 minutes. All Ages. Collective Movement Theatre

Remaining shows:
Friday September 4, 2015 – 7:15 PM
Saturday September 5, 2015 – 9:15 PM
Sunday September 6, 2015 – 5:15 PM


About @lacouvee

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  1. […] of Pretending Things Are a Cock (Victoria Fringe 2015)—Jon Bennett–is back with more gonzo tales of his dysfunctional family, […]

  2. […] Bennett has been a Victoria Fringe Festival favourite since arriving here with Pretending Things Are a Cock in 2015.  Gonzo humour and high octane delivery coupled with frenetic nervous energy and […]

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