It's not a totally Canadian show. Sure, there's mention of the world's largest beaver and the Northern Lights, but I didn't catch a single "eh?" or spot a lumberjack. It's not so much the content as the performers who give it its Canuck-ness, and that's usually a good sign at Orlando Fringe. Paul Hutcheson and Sharon Nowlan use a variety of storytelling methods including monologues, song-and-dance and lluminated globes on strings.
Their expressions are marvelous: He with the wide-eyed, extreme facial looks that spread throughout the body and she with the more subtle raised eyebrow and smirk. One bit describes a recent evening where he lost control of his bodily functions. It's the kind of story that horrifies and delights if it happens to your best friend, and many in our audience did let out a snort.
(Parents, there's also a bit of sexuality in Canuck Cabaret, plus a few F-bombs that would make me slap a "mature" rating on it.)
Two stand-out segments: Nowlan pulls off an awesome act that's part ballroom dance, part illusion, part mime, part puppetry to the tune of "Change Partners." And Hutcheson presents an earnest 3 ½-minute version of the role of Baby in Dirty Dancing. Nowhere but Fringe, eh? Somewhere Jennifer Grey is snorting.
Note: Each show also includes various guest performers from Fringe shows. And their Sunday shows are a completely different format.
Orange Venue, 55 minutes. Remaining shows: 11:15 a.m. Sun. 5/23, 7:40 p.m. Mon 5/24, 11:30 p.m. Tue. 5/25, 7:10 p.m. 5/27, 11:55 p.m. Fri. 5/28, noon Sun. 5/30.
Capt. Discovery and 'Escape to Planet O'
Reviewed by Dewayne Bevil / Orlando Sentinel
If nothing else, you'll have a good Fringe story to tell after seeing "Capt. Discovery." The production is in a janitor's closet near the volunteers' check-in room, and it's snug, people. There are two seats, so it's definitely not for the claustrophobic. The venue is about 3 feet by 5 feet.
The 10-minute show itself is sci-fi puppetry, but not elaborate ? more like Mister Rogers' Land of Make-Believe. Two people "backstage" handle a lot of characters, including a row of Mushroom Men, a hero, a heroine (with pearls) and a nerd. The most interesting one is the leader of the she-wolves.
Despite the intimate setting ? we managed to go Standing Room Only with seven audience members ? it was difficult to hear the recorded dialog. The content was a little racy, for puppets. (Hint: The she-wolves must keep the population going.) It all reminded me of Old Fringe in impossible, un-airconditioned venues across downtown Orlando.
Best of all, you can't feel ripped off. There's no set admission ? donations encourage, but not in a heavy-handed way.
Studio C janitorial closet at the Shakespeare Center. 10 minutes. Remaining performances: 9 p.m. Sun. 5/23, 9 p.m. Mon. 5/24, 9 p.m. Tues. 5/24, 9 p.m. Wed. 5/26.
Cat-Women of the Moon
Reviewed by Tod Caviness, Orlando Sentinel
Like Reefer Madness: The Play and Debbie Does Dallas: The Musical, Cat-Women of the Moon comes into the Fringe with half the work already done for it. The wide-eyed acting in pre-70's cinema alone provides plenty of unintentional comedy, to say nothing of the sexual politics.