Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Fringe Costume Thoughts: Impassioned Embraces & Mixing Boal: Kitchen of the Oppressed

Two ensemble casts. Two shows. Two different venues. Both enter the Fashion Forum. Only one will leave.

No, not really. That’s how it feels being a fashion blogger sometimes during the Fringe festival though–like I’m being asked to judge costume decisions based on other shows. “How did X compare to Y?” And to be honest, it’s hard to get out of that headspace sometimes.

But right now I want to look at two shows, and I’ll try to keep them separate from each other.

The first, Impassioned Embraces, was put on by students from the Ottawa Theatre School. Knowing that this was a student production going in, my expectations were low for the costumes for the piece. And a good thing too.

While the actors wore mostly street clothing for the play (which isn’t something I necessarily have a problem with, although it didn’t look like they had put too much thought into it), it seems like after every performance they just shoved their clothing into their bags and left it there until the next show. Everything was crumpled and rumpled, and not intentionally so. To be fair, the female cast members seemed a little more put-together. One scene in particular comes to mind–two characters are in a job interview. The male actor’s suit is not only crumpled, it has visible threads hanging from the back of it.

Surely you would put more care into your clothing if you were going to a job interview? Why are you not putting more care into what you are wearing on stage to portray that? I was so angry about those hanging threads that I couldn’t pay much attention to the scene.

In another scene, two characters are at a wedding. The groom and a bridesmaid are dancing at what is said to be a moneyed wedding. Which you would not have gotten from the costumes. From the mismatched vest and pants on the groom, to the cheap, flimsy-looking, tacky dress on the bridesmaid, once again I was too distracted to realize what the scene was even about.

I came out of the show with pages and pages of notes on the other scenes (eight in total, I believe), but those were the lowlights. Nothing really stands out. (You can read Andrew Snowdon’s review of the show on Fully Fringed.) You can still catch Impassioned Embraces at Café Alt Wednesday through Sunday for a $10.00 ticket. Check out the Fringe website for information on times (it plays at a different time every day).

Moving on to Mixing Boal: Kitchen of the Oppressed, this year’s production from Counterpoint Players, I feel slightly better about the costume choices.

But only very slightly.

The highlight for me was Daniel MacIvor’s getup as the host of the game show – black dress pants, a purple dress shirt, patterned vest and… Converse All-Stars. A cheeky little hint that this isn’t going to be your average game show/Fringe Festival production.

However, everything else fell pretty flat. While I saw where they were going thematically with each costume, I feel that due to the over-the-top nature of the piece they could have gone much, much further than they did with the costumes. The women were all from different Ontario towns named after more famous European cities (Athens, Paris, etc.), and that was trying to be linked in with their costumes, but it just fell short.

This is unfortunate, because it was an enjoyable show. And this is coming from a girl who does not enjoy audience interaction.

Here’s what Eleni Armenakis has to say about Mixing Boal on Fully Fringed. You still have three more chances to see Mixing Boal on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday in Academic Hall at various times. Once again, check out the Ottawa Fringe website for time details.

Phew. I managed to not compare them. That's a relief.

As for Fringe, I have a lot more to say! There’s a lot more to come!

*EDIT* Yes, I do mean that the host is played by Zach Counsil, not Daniel MacIvor. Thanks for the great catch, Andrew Alexander!




  1. I'm sure you mean Zach Counsil as the game show host, not Daniel MacIvor. :)

  2. It's interesting to see how, to some people, emotional characteristics, scene chemistry and basic entertainment are trumped by production values in a below sub-par, financially burdened show playing in a basement Cafe at the FRINGE FESTIVAL... I'm not surprised, having read some of your other "reviews," that you hated "Impassioned Embraces." You say you knew it was a student show, and had low expectations... so why bother coming? Why waste your time watching a show you know you're not going to enjoy, and then take it a step further, and waste ours reading your tasteless "reviews?" We actors have a phrase which we use to describe such "reviews." It's called nit-picking. If you are unable to concentrate on the real 'production values' and find yourself absorbed in whatever obsessions of vanity that you seem to harbor, then why bother? I cannot think of a reason, none other than personal advertisement. Fashion and theatre are two different realms. It makes zero sense reviewing a show based solely on the fashion. I'm not asking you to give a real review, but don't connect the two. Don't tell people that the fashion was so bad, that you were "too distracted to realize what the scene was even about." You know that speaks more about your own personal character than our show? You may know fashion my friend, but you clearly know nothing of theatre. This is the Fringe Festival, you're paying $10, suck it up buttercup.