The good, bad and ugly at #yegfringe

Scribbled down on August 18th, 2009 by she
Posted in Art, Vittles & Beer

Sunday night found me cramped in a hot church basement desperately wishing I were anywhere other than there. For the first time in my Fringe going history I witnessed people walking out of a play. A large part of me was desperately wishing I could do the same.

Perhaps it was the off-key singing. Although that was forgivable considering the performers age and (possibly limited) experience levels.  The actors performing in Sherlock Holmes: The Musical were young. The cast included a variety of ages. I’m not the best judge, but I’d hazard a guess that they members anywhere from 10-17 years of age. Some had obvious dance or vocal training. Others were less seasoned and uncertain in their roles. There were some bright and shining stars in the show – the young woman who played Watson comes immediately to mind – and a lot of potential. More importantly, most of the cast seemed to be really enjoying themselves. Sometimes, a whole-hearted effort can go a long way; especially in a youth production or Fringe performance. Snappy writing leading to good dialog doesn’t hurt either.

Perhaps it was the sweltering heat. Who knew a basement would become so hot and uncomfortable when jam packed with people? And packed-in we were. Sardines would be hard pressed to tell the difference between the venue and a rush hour LRT car.

Most likely it was the incredibly uncomfortable seating arrangements. I know I seriously contemplated walking out a number of times as a direct result of the seating. I didn’t think I’d manage to make it through 90 minutes. How I managed to walk out of the venue post show is still a mystery to me.

To call the venue ugly is understating it. For theatre patrons at a 90 minute show it was horrific. 

The seats were standard church basement wooden stackable chairs. Not too bad all on their own. Then again, they weren’t “on their own”. The chairs were taped together!

If you were “lucky” like me and had a very obese man seated next to you and taking up half of your chair, you spent the evening perched on one the side, desperately trying NOT to fall off the chair and interrupt the show, while the curved wooden back of the chair dug into your back. Add to that the heat in the venue and my neighbour’s continual sweating – all over me. I was soaked on one side. Cramped and in pain on the other. 

Did I mention this was a 90 minute show and I likely wasn’t the only person in this predicament?

I’m sure the organizers thought that taping the seats together would make layout easier and would help ensure that there was sufficient room for the number of  seats they wanted to sell. Or some such nonsense.

The remaining space wasn’t sufficient for the performance. An area was curtained off to contain sets and, on average, the performers did a decent  job of switching sets between scenes. What little space remained gave them far too little room to move, sing, and perform choreographed dance routines. Performers occasionally ran into each other as they moved through their numbers. I suspect the area they practiced in was much larger than the venue’s stage area.

The size of the venue’s “stage” also played havoc with the stage make-up. Whoever dolled the youth up certainly wasn’t thinking of what the drawn-in facial lines and pancake make-up would look like when the actor is standing one or two feet in front of the audience. When standing close to the back wall of the stage the make-up job didn’t look as bad.  Had the youth been delivering their performance on a proper stage in an auditorium I have a feeling it all would have looked just fine.

Summing up:

  • The good- Eclectic youth cast. Humourous script delivered with great enthusiasm. Great costumes.
  • The bad – Inappropriate stage make-up for venue size. Lack of climate control.
  • The ugly – Venue. Stage. Seating.

And that’s all I’m going to say about that.


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