2009 Edmonton Fringe Reviews: Day 7

You know that communists are actually really evil, right? They kill people. Tens of millions of them, seemingly on a whim. They may use intellectuals to gain power, but once they are in place the average fringe theatre fan-slash-commie dupe is just another dead body with a couple of bullets to the head. Yet despite the actual result of the revolutions that 2009's fringe title is encouraging (Che Guevara or Joseph Stalin weren't exactly friendly to the intelligensia) it continues to be everybody's favourite Red Menace. On my way to see G-Men, I walked past a guy walking around in a "CCCP" t-shirt with the hammer and sickle on it. I'm pretty sure that he wouldn't be too cool with another guy wearing a swastika walking the other way, but Nazi gets a negative connotation while the Communists worldwide get a free pass. Its therefore not without its irony that anti-Commie G-man code-named "Garfield" often quotes Hitler -- acknowledging he'd quote other guys if they had suitably applicable quotes -- while taking on Reds right in his own backyard. As is not uncommon for local acts (and a few international acts too, come to think) at the Edmonton Fringe, the 4th wall is deliberately shattered early and shattered often. The G-Men are here to show us how they came to be, teach us how to combat the Reds, and entertain us, mostly by banging their heads continuously against the 4th wall. They bring audience volunteers up on stage to help out. They get more gags out of doing their own sound effects than most of the script provides. What's left is an entertaining little romp ("your first mission: kill a chinaman", the kissing under the lights gag, etc.) that counts on you enjoying audience participation so extensive that by the end the 15 year old Luba Goy impersonator from the crowd got to do the bow at the end while one of the two characters lay dead with a bloody gunshot wound that could have used an extra piece of duct tape. I kept hoping for the great inside-gag if they identified me as a "Communist sympathizer", but alas it never came.

For a curious aside, ironically enough, in Macleans Mark Steyn addresses similar points on Nazism vs. Communism, and another example of what commies really think of playwrights.