REVIEW: Fresh Takes on Fresh Meat, Part 2

Ottawa, Ontario
Jonas McLean catches the second weekend of Ottawa’s Fresh Meat Fest, a self-described “playground” that gives local artists the space to explore new work in a micro-play format. Keeping in kind, here are Jonas’ micro-reviews of the first five of ten new Canadian plays:

Fresh Meat 6’s second weekend offers emotionally raw perspectives on the human mind, with the same variety of theatrical styles that I came to expect from the first round of shows. Between shows there is another immersive experience to take part in. This weekend’s is Metaverse, an augmented reality room created by Liam Mooney. If you’re curious about what the future of immersive theatre might look like just sign up at the bar.

In-between walks us through the stages of growing up the children of Vietnamese immigrant parents. This piece, like its characters, seems to be going in several directions at once. Far from confusing, however, it feels coherent throughout thanks to Helen Thai and Franco Pang‘s skilled physicality and timing.

In Holding Mercury Kristina Watt begins with brain surgery and goes deeper, peeling back layers of intrusive thoughts to reveal the complexities of the human mind. Watt’s nuanced performance combines with a multitude of well-timed sound effects to make the brain under her knife a second character.

Folie is a brilliant piece of clown created and performed by Madeleine Hall and Mitchel Rose. Folie, French for madness, takes on multiple meanings when we meet Hall and Rose’s flirtatious, garishly dressed clowns. They’re foley artists, and most of the sounds we hear are indeed made by them and their assortment of bright orange props. This physical comedy offers a perfect contrast to the more serious tones of the rest of this weekend.

Kelsey Rideout’s anXietywomXn is another one-woman show that puts a mind at war with itself at its centre. Rideout wraps herself and the stage in string while her poetic language draws the audience in, inviting us to follow her thoughts spiral through the onstage web she has woven. When Rideout leaves the stage, she brings her string with her but leaves her recurring question – “Who am I?” – with us.

Finally, InSight teaches us not to take sight for granted, and yet I must encourage you to see it. This paradox is brought to the stage by Geoffrey Dollar who details the experience of living without sight before launching into a captivating dance that will leave you wanting more.

Matt Hertendy and Matt Venner of Two Kind Boys deserve praise for their part hosting the evening. Fresh Meat’s decision to change hosts every night is one that can easily backfire, but these two kept things moving in a charming and professional manner.

If you catch the festival’s closing night this Saturday your host will be Al Connors, who will also DJ the after-party.

 

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Author Bio: Jonas McLean is an improvisor and theatre creator from Ottawa, Ontario. He holds a BA in Dramatic Arts with a concentration in theatre praxis from Brock University and is currently pursuing an MA in the Theatre at the University of Ottawa. His research explores improvised performance and the role of the audience and audience participation in performance events. If you would like to continue the conversation he can be found on Twitter @TheJonasMcLean.

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