Thursday, December 4, 2008

Atomic Vaudeville, Sylvia Plath Must Not Die, and new laptops

The big news in my life is that I've purchased a baby laptop, an Acer Aspire One, henseforth known as Baby. It is my hope that I'll be better able to keep up with things. One of the nice things about Baby is that I can start writing impressions of shows I've seen while on my way home. The first draft of this post was written on the subway and at the bus station.

Unfortunately, it appears that Rogers Wireless doesn't want me to connect to Blogger, so I've had to wait until I got a LAN connection to upload this post. Since one of the things I wanted a better handle on was blogging, I'm going to have to talk to some people.

Sunday I finally got to experience something that's been a staple in Victoria for years now, Atomic Vaudeville. Out of this monthly cabaret grew a show, Legoland, which is currently playing at Theatre Passe Muraille. They took this opportunity to have most of the regular cast do a one-night only Atomic Vaudeville show in Toronto. It was billed as a combination of "theatre, comedy, music, dance, and puppetry with a healthy dose of vulgarity". I certainly saw all these elements during the evening. The pre-show was music and in the process I was introduced to an really cool band originally from Victoria, The Human Statues. I hope to catch them really soon - I'm told they play a lot around town.

The show itself used as a through line the idea that Jesus had decided to get out of the saviour business and was now taking care of his nana, who is Satan, who would rather watch Coronation Street rather than pay any attention to him. The show was anchored by a few larger set pieces that sometimes would encompass multiple acts within it. There was a bit with a blissed out host who uses bass music to punctuate his introductions to some really bad acts. He talked about being a "virtual activist", which made me laugh in self-recognition.

The closing number was Spiderman The Musical, written by Bono (which is actually in development). Rod Peter Jr. had impressed me all night with his physicality and during this finale he was perilously hanging off the TPM railing throughout the beginning. Lots of Bono jokes later, the ending tied back into the framing device, uniting Bono and Jesus in love. There were a lot of other small comedy bits, some more successful than others. And lots of Mormon jokes.

But my personal favourite was Batman Bollywood. Imagine a bare-chested Batman, a reclining matchmaker of a Commissioner Gordon, and the Joker busting Indian dance moves, and you'll have a hint of what it was all about.


There's another touring company in town, One Yellow Rabbit. They're doing two shows in rep and last night I saw Sylvia Plath Must Not Die. I've seen two of their previous shows, Thunderstruck (at Magnetic North) and Dream Machine (at TPM). Dream Machine was the first part of what the Rabbits call their "typewriter trilogy", with this show being the second. (The third, Doing Leonard Cohen, is the other show in rep.) I wasn't a big fan of Dream Machine, but I suspected it was because I'm not a fan of the beat poets.

Turns out I was right because I really enjoyed Sylvia Plath. Using the poetry of Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton to give a sense of their lives and the men that played a large part of them, the show intertwines dance (I'm pretty sure it was Foxtrot they were doing), recitation and occassional dialogue. I liked the moodiness of it all and being exposed to the poetry of famous names I had heard of but never read. Plath's work left me cold but I would like to read more of Sexton at some point. And hopefully I'll be able to catch the Leonard Cohen piece before it closes next weekend as well.

It was great to see work from the other side of the country. I hope I get a chance to see more soon.


I want to thank everyone for the responses to the last white paper post. It's been useful hearing people's thoughts and I'm hoping more people will join in. I'd like to see some forward movement, not have everything just lapse. I had a discussion with someone at Canadian Heritage yesterday and she strongly suggested that I find out more about what is already being done and work off of that instead of trying to create something new. So my question to you readers out there - what is already out there and how effective is it?

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