Fringe Reviews, Day 1

Well, saw my first play last night. It was an action packed first night at the fringe: at the beer tent last night, I seem to recognize the guy behind me. Where do I know this guy from? He's got his questionably fruity handler with him, he's bald with hints of red hair, quite tall.

Suddenly it hits me: I'm standing in front of that Klein-obsessed moron Kevin Taft! Ohh, the things I could say. The things I could do. I'm tempted to make a gun-related comment, decide against it. So there you go: I missed my chance to punch Kevin Taft. I'm bringing weapons to Day 2 today...

Anyways, the play. I saw one of those possibly polemic plays that I might have hated: The Churchill Protocol. It's all about a secret military facility in Canada holding prisoners from Afghanistan being investigated by a reporter. The synopsis brings fears of Gitmo/Yankee "satire", which fortunately was somewhat unfounded.

The plot actually fades into the background compared to the performances (er, one of them at least), so I'll concentrate on that. The highlight has to be co-writer Kris Joseph's "Colonel", who's real name is (assumably) never given. The best way for me to describe him is a cross between Sigfried (Bernie Kopell) from Get Smart, Emporer Cartagia (Wortham Krimmer) from Babylon 5, and Mr. Peterman (John O'Hurley) from Seinfeld. He's manic, he's obsessed with mind over matter, slightly paranoid, and swears constantly: but never anything other than "damn". The other character, played by Patrick Gauthier (also of the writing team) is a Globe and Mail reporter named Adam something. [note to producers of these plays: why give the character names, even assumed aliases, and then not put them on the playbill? It hurts the chances for a quality review. -ed] His character is more whiny and annoying than anything [an annoying Globe and Mail journalist? At least they're striving for accuracy... -ed]. As a foil to the military officer, it is at least effective. The writers don't quite pull the classic "sympathetic reporter, asshole army guy" heart-tugging cliche, which works quite well.

As for the plot, these guys (judging by their previous works) are obsessed with goats. At least it makes for an interesting premise: what do Afghan cargo planes, goats, polar bear jails, secret black projects, and the squeamish Canadian people have to do with each other? Because much of the message of the play seems to be that the Canadian Military is really more secretive and powerful than is generally assumed, and that efforts to make larger pushes in national defense are essential for the future. As the army guy notes, the Canadian Armed Forces are expected to defend a country "twice the size" (not really) of the U.S., with 1/10th of the population and full of resources much of the world desires, all without offending her citizens' moral objection to the use of force. The reporter tries to mass a defense against the Colonel's logic using principles of openness and democracy, but its pretty clear who has the stronger arguments.

The play itself is very entertaining, quite a few jokes (the Colonel's spitting after mentioning "The CBC" was a personal highlight), and absolutely no annoyingly leftist assaults on the poor Gitmo detainees that evil neocon warlord Bush is responsible for. Definitely a good start to the 2007 Fringe festival. Even if this morning Kevin Taft is still annoyingly alive.

Update, 4:11pm: SPOILER ALERT!:

I'm confused still though about why the guy's arm got cut and healed. Seems contrary to the goal at the end of the production.