Review: Queer Acts Opening Salvo: Emerging Artists

Reposted by Wayves volunteer 18/07/2016

By Hugo Dann

Reviwer's apology: On July 13, in my haste to get the review of The Cunning Linguist online, I mistakenly amalgamated the names of playwright/performer Monica Garrido and her director, Beatriz Pizano. I offer my sincere apologies to these gifted theatre artists. The article has been corrected. - Hugo Dann.

Queer Acts Theatre Festival, the annual precursor to Halifax Pride Week, opened last night with a cosmic explosion of queer stories, music, dancing and song. The Festival has added an extra day and expanded its lineup; last night there were four performances and a late night cabaret with Bill Wood and Megan McDowell.

PANDEMONIUM

The evening began with two short plays. The very busy Bill Wood directed Heather Baglole’s play Pandemonium, a reworking of the Greek myth of Narcissus and Echo. Ms. Baglole is a clearly a smart person. She writes in rhyming couplets, toys with anachronisms, and there are some quite funny lines and moments, plus the inevitable nod to A Midsummer Night's Dream. The actors, Cat McCluskey (Pan), Sansom Marchand (Echo), and Ms. Blaglole herself (Narcissa) are all fine. Gender reversals and various sexual identities are attached to the ancient originals, but the characters function as attitudes rather than personalities.

The most intriguing character is the male nymph, Echo, struggling to come out as asexual. In Ms. Bagolole's version Echo’s history includes being raped by the god Zeus and having the over-sexed goat god Pan for a best friend, but the playwright struggles to give expression to the challenges facing asexuals in our hyper-sexualized society.

Pandemonium ends on a cozy moment with the three semi-hemi divine/human beings becoming BFFAs. Alas, life and art, ike the myth itself, are grittier than that.

THE CUNNING LINGUIST

Over the years, Toronto’s Buddies in Bad Times Theatre’s Emerging Creators Unit has been the source for some of the best performances at Queer Acts. The Cunning Linguist by Monica Garrido upholds the tradition. Ms. Garrido tells her own story, coming-out as queer in Mexico, and coming-in, to a new culture in Toronto Toronto. Along the way she explores her relationship with The Almighty, perfects her (fabulous!) dance moves, and becomes a cunning linguist in her own right.

For all its laughter, the play is not without depth, and shares an interesting thematic connection to anther play at the festival, Castrati, but more of that later.

Ms. Garrido is a delightful performer, overflowing with warmth and fun. Beatriz Pizano's direction is sharp and uncluttered, I suspect the two women share a quirky sense of humour. Even at the risk of forever changing your relationship to the taco, I urge any and all to see The Cunning Linguist. It's a treat!

Performances of Pandemonium/The Cunning Linguist at 7:30pm, July 14; 7:30pm, July 16; 6:00pm, July17.

You can find out more about this year’s Queer Act’s Festival by visiting then on Facebook.

 

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