Wildside Festival at Centaur
is all-girl (almost)
“The hottest two weeks in winter” highlight some of Montreal’s more successful independent productions
By Byron Toben
Despite the freezing weather, Centaur’s annual Wildside Festival is drawing large crowds in this, its 21st incarnation.
This year also marks the first time that Johanna Nutter has acted as sole curator. On the last several, she shared that function with then artistic director Roy Surette, recently returned to Vancouver after ten successful seasons at the Centaur helm.
In this year of the “Me too” movement, the selections are all female shows, almost. At Post time, I had seen or re-seen four of the five shows playing in five time slots each over the nine days of the festival
In this year of the “Me too” movement, the selections are all female shows, almost.
Two that I had reviewed earlier:
The Morning After the Life Before
This naturalistic hit from the June 2017 Fringe won the Centaur Prize for best script giving the two Irish performers automatic entry into the Wildside. Here is a link to my review from then, as I noticed no changes from the Fringe show: Montreal Fringe 2017 halfway through
This expressionistic show, feted at the META awards, was reviewed by me at its August premiere at the Mainline theatre. As in my review then, below, I felt that its one problem was it was a bit too long at two hours. At the Wildside, it has been edited to about 90 minutes. Controversial scenes include two actual bare-naked ladies (not the boy band with that name) frolicking in a bathtub. Here is the link to my past review: Tragic Queens enhances Cabal Theatre’s stature
The two new to me were:
Another Fringe hit, presented by B.A.A.P (Bald Angry Asian Productions), this 40-minute wonder written by Ke Xin Li and directed by Sophie Gee features a Chinese/Canadian couple being visited for a Christmas dinner by their errant daughter. Edward Wong, a long time alumnus of Westmount’s Dramatis Personae community theatre, plays a hard working Chinese immigrant to Canada who finally brought over his limited English speaking wife Kasu Yasyhara. Their daughter, Mercedeh Barouque has been living a nomadic life as a “queer, non binary, radical, anarchist vegetarian”. Generational arguments ensue while turkey lurkey awaits to be eaten. A bit of theatre of the absurd and great fun amid serious issues.
Edward Wong, a long time alumnus of Westmount’s Dramatis Personae community theatre, plays a hard working Chinese immigrant to Canada…
Let’s Try This Standing
Besides Mr. Wong in Pluck’d above, the only other male in the five featured shows is, sort of, the non-speaking on stage sound and projection manager, Daniel Oulton. Otherwise, this is a one-woman show written and performed by Gillian Clark.
This observational comedy show relates the personal experience of Ms. Clark, who survived a near death experience in 2010 in Nova Scotia. Her rehab experiences over seven years, involve anecdotes on bodily functions, moments of joy, moments of despair. Her charming smile immediately wins over the audience who is on her side through trial and tribulation.
Hope I’m not revealing too much that her seven-year trial ends with her leg rehabilitated enough to dance again.
The Wildside Festival ends on January 13.
Images: courtesy of the Centaur Theatre
Feature image: scene from Tragic Queens
Read also: Cirque du Soleil’s icy winter wonderland